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Storage & Clustering Community Blog

Cloud Computing and Virtualization

Created: 04 Oct 2012 • Updated: 11 Jun 2014
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Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources. Virtualization is a computing technology that enables a single user to access multiple physical devices. This paradigm manifests itself as a single computer controlling multiple machines, or one operating system utilizing multiple computers to analyze a database. Virtualization is about creating an information technology infrastructure that leverages networking and shared physical IT assets to reduce or eliminate the need for physical computing devices dedicated to specialized tasks or systems.

Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Through cloud computing, a world-class data center service and collocation provider offers managed IT services through a hosted or "Software as a Service (SaaS)" model. A server or database can be physically located in a highly-secure, remote location while the data is accessed from a client's computer, using the database's server to retrieve, sort, and analyze the data. This arrangement eliminates the need for a costly in-house IT department and hardware and the associated capital expense. Instead, a cloud computing provider owns the hardware while providing hosted, managed services to its clients on a usage basis. Cloud computing generally utilizes virtualized IT resources such as networks, servers, and computing devices.

There are two published definitions of cloud computing. The NIST is working on their version and Gartner is sort of working on theirs. Here are the highlights:

NIST – On-demand self-service, Ubiquitous network access (internet standards based), location independent resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and measure/metered service

NIST further describes the Characteristics of the Cloud as:

  • On-demand self-service. Unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service’s provider.
  • Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, laptops, and PDAs).
  • Resource pooling. Computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.
  • Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned, in some cases automatically, to quickly scale up and rapidly released to quickly scale down.
  • Measured Service. Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts).

The path to the cloud is not simply a matter of virtualization and consolidation of platforms. Virtualization and consolidation are certainly important elements; they are drivers to achieving the benefits of private cloud but they alone are not enough. Most unsuccessful private cloud implementations are due purely to bad planning and poor execution.  The business requirements for a cloud service must be examined thoroughly and defined based on its criticality, availability, security, scalability and operational requirements.

Blog Author:
Mr. Wenk is Principal Resiliency Architect for Symantec’s Storage and Availability Management Group. He has consulted worldwide with large Fortune 500 customers; Generating demand for Cloud Infrastructures and architecting private cloud solutions for technology-intensive organizations in over 20 different countries; tackling some very challenging, complex, and ambiguous problems. His experience includes developing architectures and strategies for highly available, resilient and secure infrastructures in heterogeneous IT environments. He has performed quantitative operational risk assessments that were used to justify the significant investments required to build, transform and maintain resilient infrastructures; he has performed technology assessments, IT consolidation and transition strategies, and developed site selection criteria for complex heterogeneous technology consolidations. In addition, he has developed charging methodologies, performed capacity planning and performance evaluations in large, complex IT environments. Dennis has developed a number of risk-based services that quantify the return on technology investments that increase resiliency and improve continuity programs. His background includes experience with EMC Consulting as Senior Cloud Architect and with Hitachi Data Systems as Principal Global Solution Architect for High Availability Solutions, IBM Global Network as an Outsourcing Project Executive; Comdisco where he was Western of Director Technology Consulting; KPMG where he was Senior Manager, Group Leader for IT Operations and Transformations, as well as Heller Financial where he served as VP/Information Processing. Dennis Wenk earned an MBA in Accounting and Finance, BS in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University. He is a certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Data Processor (CDP), and Certified Systems Professional (CSP), certified in ITIL Service Management. He was awarded Best Management Paper by Computer Measurement Group, and currently he sits on the Advisory Board for Continuity Insights and Serves as their Technology Chair. He has held the Cloud Special Interest Group Leader for the Outsourcing Institute and the Business Continuity Focus Expert for Information Technology Infrastructure Management Group. He is an advisor to Business Continuity Services Group. Dennis has written award-winning professional articles, white-papers and has been published in Information Week, Computer Performance Review, Trends and Topics, Continuity Insights, Infosystems, Computer Measurement Group, and DR Journal. He is a regular speaker at world-wide industry conferences. Some current topical expertise include; ‘3 Simple Complexities of Data Protection’, ‘Think About Never Failing, Not How To Recover’, ‘Focus On The Largest Source Of Risk: The Data Center’, ‘Risk Economics’, ‘Gaining Competitive Advantage: The Myth of the Resiliency Paradox’, ‘Eco-Friendly Data Center’, ‘Virtualization, a Resiliency Enabler’, ‘Economic Impact of Interruptions’, ‘Risk-based Business Continuity’, ‘High-Stakes Business Impact Analysis’, ‘A Risk-Based Approach to Internal Controls’, and ‘Resiliency: Clearing the Five Nines Hurdle’.