Cloud computing and virtualization

Many of the technologies and services associated with cloud computing such as virtualization already exist, but they are being implemented in new ways to provide dynamic, scalable, and virtualized computing infrastructure, platforms, and software.
By Goran Novkovic August 19, 2017

Cloud computing is not a new concept. Many of the technologies and services associated with cloud computing, such as virtualization, has been in existence for some time. What is different in cloud computing is that these technologies are being implemented in new ways to provide dynamic, scalable, and virtualized computing infrastructure, platforms, and software.

These technologies allow manufacturing organizations to achieve improved utilization and efficiency of their service providers’ infrastructure through the controlled sharing of computing resources with other customers (multi-tenancy), and greater flexibility to scale up and down information technology (IT) services. In some respects, cloud computing represents the maturing of these technologies.

Cloud computing relies on virtualization. Cloud services rely heavily on virtualization, but the opposite is not true. So just because virtual machines are in a network, it doesn’t mean it has a cloud. A cloud involves other characteristics already discussed. So virtualization itself does not constitute a cloud. But if there’s a cloud computing environment, it implies virtualization to drive it. Virtualization technology is nothing new. It’s been around for decades, but now it is being used with cloud computing to allow for the rapid elasticity or the provisioning and de-provisioning of cloud resources.

Think of cloud computing as a new business model based on old technology. The new business model part involves the fact that manufacturing organizations are not laying out a capital expenditure to provision IT services. Instead, manufacturing organizations are shifting from capital expenditures to operating expenditures, because they are paying a recurring subscription fee based on their usage over time. The old technology part includes computer networks. Computer networks have certainly increased in speed over the years. But computer networks themselves are an old technology just like virtualization is also an old technology.

Virtualization allows multiple virtual machines to run on one physical computer, all at the same time. Each of the virtual machines have their own operating system and they behave as if they are actually each running on their own separate computer (physically), but they’re not. Instead, they are running on top of a hypervisor. The hypervisor manages access to the hardware for each virtual machine. Each virtual machine running an operating system can also be running a series of applications like you normally could run on a real physical computer. Virtual machines in the cloud are useful, because manufacturing organizations can host custom applications on that virtual machine in the cloud or they might develop new applications and test it all in the cloud before they roll it out in production.

Virtualization benefits for cloud computing

Virtualization offers many benefits to the cloud environment in terms of efficient resource utilization. The utilization involves cloud computing resource utilization. Cloud providers benefit from the economies of scale. This makes it possible for the cloud provider to be able to afford the proper cloud computing equipment and to pay for the expertise to manage it, because they have so many cloud customers. If hardware is acquired for a single manufacturing organization, its capabilities may not be fully utilized. In a cloud computing environment with virtualization, it’s all pooled together, and as various cloud service customers need more compute resource power, they get it. Without virtualization, large-scale and dynamic cloud computing data centers would not exist to the extent that they do today.

The cloud provider has the infrastructure on which IT services run. So they host services and give cloud consumers access to them over a network. Manufacturing organizations as cloud consumers are billed for what they use in terms of the IT services.

Goran Novkovic is professional engineer with Professional Engineers Ontario. This article originally appeared on MESA International’s blog. MESA International is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Carly Marchal, content specialist, CFE Media, cmarchal@cfemedia.com. 

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