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The Circle of Life: Virtualization and the Cloud

The Circle of Life: Virtualization and the Cloud

There’s no doubt that cloud computing is taking the IT world by storm. It seems like every day, a new vendor is coming up with a new Noun-as-a-Service that business just can’t live without. From SaaS (software) and IaaS (infrastructure) to PaaS (platform) and DaaS (desktop), just about every aspect of IT can be packed into a cloud delivery model.

What has made all of these services possible? It may sound cliché, but it’s a side effect of trying to do more with less. Rather than deploying one resource for one task, technology has shifted so that resources are optimized. Virtualization brings an intermediary – the hypervisor – into the mix to ensure that the right things are done at the right time by the right systems. The hypervisor doesn’t care about the platform or hardware details – it just cares about getting things done as efficiently as possible.

This detachment from individual machines is what has allowed cloud computing to be such a success. Once technology allowed the physical network, server and storage resources to play a minor role in computing power, businesses were able to reduce their hardware needs in favor of virtual machines that were optimized for specific applications and processes. Technology firms could make these changes in-house because they had the staff on hand to convert their existing infrastructure to a virtual environment. Everyone else either had to hire a consultant – or find a vendor who could provide them with the same benefits.

As the US economy struggled, businesses were forced to find ways to cut the bottom line. Technology investments are often high dollar investments, but with things changing so quickly, it was hard to justify spending on hardware that might be outdated in a year. Enter the cloud: by paying for only what was used, the need for a big capital investment disappeared. Businesses could suddenly have the latest software, tools and resources, and didn’t need to hire the staff to maintain them, sign long-term service agreements, or worry about how much the next upgrade would cost.

Because virtualization separates the infrastructure from the user experience, applications no longer were restricted to Mac or PC environments – many now have Web-based interfaces that allow users to interact with their data from anywhere.

This is a guest post from Nancy Goodwin. As an editor for Cloud Computing Insights, Nancy Goodwin writes about trends in cloud infrastructure, the use and development of cloud-based applications, and the challenges of securing the cloud 

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