Successful cloud migration requires an overhaul of organization structure, processes and technology, and a clear understanding of business impact and risks.
Figure – Public Cloud Migration Requirements
One of the key pre-requisites for moving to Cloud is to fully leverage the capability and benefits of virtualization. In most cases, virtualization provides the same benefits as those provided by Cloud computing. The key benefits of virtualization are:
Figure – Virtualization and Cloud Computing TCO Source: CISCO
If virtualization is as good as Cloud computing and both are complimentary to each other, how does organizations decide which option to opt for? The simple answer is, it depends. It depends on the type of organization, and the CAPEX/OPEX spent, scalability requirements, security needs, etc. One should also note the key difference between virtualization and Cloud.
While Cloud mostly includes the virtualization capability, additionally Cloud provides benefits such as self-service, elasticity, automated management, scalability and pay-as you go service that is not inherent in virtualization. Smaller organizations that have fewer IT staff, less prone to security risks, and are more OPEX oriented are likely candidates for adopting cloud computing. Cloud is suitable for such organizations who want to hit the ground running, keep IT costs under control by only paying for usage they consume. On the other hand, large organizations that have invested heavily in CAPEX, have unique business applications that may pose challenge integrating with Cloud environment, and have better need for security controls may want to continue with virtualization of current infrastructure. Such large organizations usually maximize the power of virtualization before going for low-hanging Cloud services such as backup, storage scalability, SaaS-based solutions for non-core business functionalities, etc.
The key point to note is: Virtualization is fundamental technology on which cloud computing is built; it makes Cloud computing work. Hence both are not interchangeable. Virtualization is employed locally, while cloud computing is accessed as a service.