The difference between virtualization and cloud computing

Posted on by Amritha Varshini
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We often need clarification with virtualization vs cloud computing as they both revolve around creating proper environments from abstract resources. At the same time, there are critical differences between the two technologies. 

This guide will explore the technical differences between virtualization and cloud computing to give you a better understanding of them. 

What is virtualization?

Virtualization is a technology that allows users to create virtual servers, networks, and storage in the cloud. This gives us the software needed to provision and manage these virtual resources. These resources are allocated from a physical machine operating somewhere in the world. By implementing access control, we enhance the security of these resources, allowing multiple applications to safely share resources between different programs.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is a more comprehensive idea that refers to delivering numerous services, including computing resources (e.g., virtual machines), storage, databases, and applications, over the Internet. Third-party cloud service providers can offer cloud services, and users can access those services remotely.

Virtualization vs cloud computing

Here’s a breakdown of several key factors of virtualization vs cloud computing:

Use cases and examples of virtualization

Virtualization is a flexible technology with many applications in different IT environments. Here are some typical virtualization use cases and illustrations:

Server virtualization

Server virtualization combines several virtual servers on a single physical server to improve resource usage, cut hardware costs, and streamline administration.

Examples: VMware vSphere/ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM, and Oracle VM VirtualBox.

Desktop virtualization

Desktop virtualization involves a centralized server hosting virtual desktops, allowing for remote access, effective management, and secure access to desktop environments.

Examples: VMware Horizon, Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, and Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS).

Application virtualization 

Application virtualization isolates and runs applications in containers or virtualized environments to simplify software deployment, reduce conflicts, and improve compatibility.

Examples: Docker, Kubernetes, and Microsoft App-V.

Network virtualization 

To increase network agility, security, and scalability, virtual network segments, overlays, or SDN (Software-Defined Networking) can be created.

Examples: VMware NSX, Cisco ACI, and OpenStack Neutron.

Storage virtualization 

Storage virtualization creates virtual storage pools by abstracting physical storage devices, increasing flexibility and streamlining data administration.

Examples: EMC ViPR, IBM SAN Volume Controller, and Microsoft Storage Spaces.

Disaster recovery and high availability 

Data and virtual machines are replicated to back up sites for high availability and disaster recovery.

Examples: VMware Site Recovery Manager, Veeam Backup & Replication, and Zerto.


This involves creating virtualized sandboxes to isolate potentially harmful files or processes for examination and threat detection.

Examples: Cuckoo Sandbox, FireEye, and various cybersecurity appliances.

Single-tenant server virtualization 

Single-tenant virtualization is the best option when a company needs total isolation and control over its virtualized infrastructure. This is frequently the case when data security, compliance, and resource predictability are crucial.

Here are some of the benefits of single-tenant virtualization:

  • Security — The risk of unauthorized access is decreased because organizations have complete control over the security of their virtualized environment.
  • Performance predictability — The performance of VMs is more stable and predictable because no other organization shares the physical resources.
  • Customization — Individual tenants can alter their virtualized environment to satisfy specific application and security needs.

Example: a company that uses single-tenant virtualization and dedicates VMs for its crucial database servers.

Multi-tenant server virtualization

These VMs share underlying physical resources, such as CPU, memory, and storage.

When maximizing resource utilization is a priority, multi-tenant virtualization is used. It is typical in cloud computing settings where numerous users pool resources.

Hosting multiple tenants on a single server and dividing the infrastructure costs among numerous clients is a cost-effective strategy for service providers.

Here are some benefits of multi-tenant virtualization:

  • Cost savings — Sharing resources among multiple tenants reduces hardware and operational costs for each organization or user.
  • Scalability Multi-tenant environments are highly scalable, allowing service providers to accommodate many customers.
  • Resource pooling Efficiently utilizes available resources, minimizing resource waste.

Example: Public cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP use multi-tenant virtualization to serve numerous customers on shared infrastructure.

Hosting companies offer shared hosting plans for websites, where multiple websites from different customers are hosted on a single server.

Use cases and examples of cloud computing

There are numerous use cases and examples of cloud computing in various industries and applications.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS technology has emerged as a mechanism to store, organize, and maintain data as businesses expand and amass more of it. Lines of business are now able to carry out their tasks more effectively, thanks to marketing automation solutions, customer relationship management (CRM), etc. 

SaaS solutions, also known as software on demand, are housed centrally in the cloud and accessible at any time from any location.

Examples: Cloud-based CRM solutions are offered by Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho and are available from anywhere.

Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

Businesses must reorganize their internal framework when they grow by multiple orders of magnitude. You can delegate management of the operating system software to PaaS to boost productivity.

PaaS is a fully equipped cloud-based development environment. It provides all the tools required to let users create and deliver useful, personalized applications.

Software development is often the focus of PaaS providers and their products. 

It is a prominent application of cloud computing. The management of the storage and computing infrastructures is time- and labor-saving. Since remote editing and formatting are feasible, it also promotes teamwork and collaboration inside the organization.

Additionally, the paradigm ensures appropriate security by being similar to serverless computing and function-as-a-service architectures.

Examples: Developers can create, launch, and grow web apps using platforms like Heroku and Google App Engine without worrying about server administration.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

Companies with pre-existing infrastructure use IaaS to outsource resources like servers, processors, networking, storage, and virtual machines. They frequently use pay-as-you-go cloud IaaS services.

Computing and storing everything in one location eliminates the managerial layers and is one of the most popular use cases for cloud computing.

IaaS offers a set of physical and virtualized resources that users can employ to get the fundamental building blocks needed to execute business workloads and applications remotely. Additionally, it assists in avoiding the expensive installation and upkeep of on-premise data centers. It also permits and uses an ideal system to scale up processes in response to demand.

IaaS ensures greater productivity by being both cost- and resource-effective.

Example: Businesses may store and retrieve data cost-effectively and securely using cloud storage services like Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, and Azure Blob Storage.

Virtualization vs cloud computing: Final thoughts

Virtualization is essential for the development of cloud infrastructure. It serves as the basis for cloud networks. A cloud infrastructure is created in IT infrastructure using virtualization and cloud computing. Multiple virtual computers can be built on the same server through virtualization, which separates the hardware from the real machine. 

Do you wish to make the most of your hosting platform's capabilities? Through our managed private cloud, Liquid Web can assist you in taking advantage of the advantages of cloud computing and virtual machines. 

Are you looking for the greatest dedicated server solutions to suit your requirements? To find out how you can use these technologies for your company, get in touch with our sales team.

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About the Author

Amritha Varshini

With a Bachelor of Engineering in Information Science, Amritha Varshini has been working as a Linux Admin for Liquid Web since 2018. Varshini has worked on multiple operating systems, such as CentOS, AlmaLinux, and Ubuntu and on servers, like VPS, cloud, shared, reseller, and dedicated.

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