Over the last 30 years, the landscape of the IT industry has changed dramatically with the adoption of virtualization and cloud computing. Though this trend has become mainstream, implementation has varied among world markets.
Virtualization and cloud computing are often used interchangeably, but mean very different things. Virtualization gave providers the ability to divide servers into multiple components so that several users could access them at once. This practice has been around for many years and is used as a way for IT to maximize compute, storage and networking, and to provide increased flexibility for their business.
Cloud computing utilizes the virtualization platform, but also adds scalability and provisioning components beyond the capabilities of virtualization. These components are important in the cloud environment because they allow the flexibility for on-demand compute resources. All cloud computing has virtualized infrastructure, but not all virtualized infrastructure is in a cloud environment. Companies around the world are finding ways to manage their business more effectively and efficiently. Layering cloud computing on a virtualization platform brings value to users because it streamlines management processes and increases efficiencies to reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO).
In the United States, companies began adopting virtualization through Virtual PC for Windows and VMware in the 90s, and its widespread use in the marketplace led to its standardization among businesses. When cloud computing emerged, virtualization made it easier for companies to transition to a cloud platform because the framework of the cloud environment was already in place.
Whereas companies in the United States were quick to adopt virtualization as a precursor to cloud computing, companies in the Asia-Pacific market skipped the virtualization stage altogether in favor of direct adoption of cloud. Data from studies in 2011 show that the number of companies in the US that adopted virtualization was double that of companies in the Asia-Pacific market. In contrast, another study released by Forbes the following year found that the United States was lagging in cloud adoption in comparison with the Asia-Pacific market, further emphasizing the markets direct route to cloud.
Though virtualization in the Asia-Pacific market is not as prevalent as it is in the US market, companies are obtaining all the benefits of virtualization and cloud from a singular move to their cloud environment. Springboard Research found that the top reasons for considering cloud computing among companies in the Asia-Pacific market were:
- Reducing IT staffing costs, including personnel salaries and office space
- Adopting the latest technology for data sharing to increase their competitive advantage
- Diminishing infrastructure costs by utilizing a service provider, and
- Supporting an unpredictable workload by accessing load balancing capabilities
Utilizing virtualized infrastructure before transitioning to the cloud helps prepare your infrastructure for the transition, reduces cost and simplifies the move to private cloud. Although utilizing virtualization alone is not necessary, a virtualization platform is required for a functioning cloud environment. Since the United States was an early adopter, it now has the infrastructure in place to create cloud environments. This is a more indirect route to the cloud, but is a much easier transition to a private cloud environment.
Knowing the difference between virtualization and cloud computing and the benefits of each is the first step to determining a solution that best fits your business. The Asia-Pacific market has taken a more direct route to cloud computing than did the United States. Since the Asia-Pacific market did not virtualize first, implementation of cloud solutions is slightly more difficult, but in the long run, it will be more cost-effective overall because of the lack of privately held infrastructure.