Cloud vs. Virtualization


I had a pretty interesting conversation on Linkedin about Cloud Computing.  A member of one of the groups I’m in poised the question – What’s the difference between App Virtualization ala Citrix and Cloud Computing.  I stated that Citrix can be used to provide Cloud platform or services.  Two other members suggested that it was more of a fringe type of cloud computing.

One member suggested that one of the requirements of cloud computing is that it’s more scalable and resilient than a Citrix type of solution or something that can be done in the traditional enterprise.  This got me to thinking of some of the offerings that are labeled Cloud.  Some of the services that came to mind are the big players in the group.  They include Amazon’s S3, Google Apps, Salesforce.com.

But then I thought of some of the other services that are marketed as “Cloud” offerings.  I see Hosted Exchange offered all over the place.  I’m certain that plenty of these providers don’t have multiple datacenters and the resiliency of gMail.  I also brought ADP into the discussion as they offer a “Cloud” product based on Citrix.  So, it got me to asking the question what is the definition of “Cloud”?

I found this InfoWorld article that explores the question very well.  The author establishes two basic categories of Cloud Services.  There’s the Computing on Demand model such as Amazons S3 and then there’s everything else.  They then go on to break it down into 7 different types of cloud offerings.

I tend to define Cloud Computing as anything that provides services to the Enterprise via the Internet or Private connection and is supported and maintained by a 3rd party.  This could be a SaaS offering like Salesforce.com or virtual servers provided by Rackspace.  The basic need is met which is to extend/expand enterprise services without expanding the infrastructure.  This is one of the many advantages of Cloud Services.

So, I l believe that a Citrix based offering can be defined as a Cloud Service.

I’d love to hear feedback.

6 thoughts on “Cloud vs. Virtualization”

  1. Interesting topic…I could be wrong, but to me a true Cloud service is a “clustering” of hardware pooled together with a VM layer for deploying applications (web, email, db, etc). Kinda like virtualization on steroids, with an efficient means for clients to request or install another instance of their application (VM) to accommodate heavy loads. Can you do this with Citrix?

    In a virtualized environment, IT does all the work, in a SaaS a 3rd party does all the work…in a Cloud, IT or the client can do the work. With the preference being on IT handling the backend work and the client focusing on using specific application (VM) preconfigured.

  2. How interresting, my definition of cloud is some what different:

    First part of my definition is: Cloud is services which can scale with your needs, you can use as much as you need when you need it, when you use a public cloud you also only pay what you use. This might also (indirectly) apply to private cloud. It should look like pools of (possibly shared) resources. Not single machines like dedicated hosting for example.

    This is probably is the definition for whatever-as-a-service.

    Second part of my definition is: It should be setup as a highly available service. If the physical machine dies, it should at least be started somewhere else without the customer having to deal with it.

    Third part: It should also have an API for automation, not just for the cloud provider, but also for the customer/user.

    That is my definition of (public) cloud.

    If it does not have these properties, you would probably not call it cloud.

    1. I think people are starting to embrace the NIST definition which is the 5 characteristics.
      Elastaic
      Pooled
      Self Service
      On Demand
      Available over broad networks

      Interesting enough the NIST definition doesn’t include high availability.

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