Virtualization and Cloud Computing: Better Together
Simon Withers

Virtualization-and-cloud-computing-better-together-300x219There are a million articles and blog posts out there about virtualisation and cloud computing and their respective benefits, but here’s the reason you should read this one: to find out why virtualisation provides even MORE benefits when delivered in the cloud.

More and more data centres are virtualised

Obviously, by now you’ve embraced virtualisation within your data centres. At the end of 2012, about 70 percent of all US companies were running at least some application workloads as virtual instances. Confidence in virtualisation has grown over the last several years as more resiliency features were built into hypervisors and virtual machine (VM) management platforms and companies have increasingly moved more of their workloads and more of their critical applications to virtualised environments. I found this one industry study that showed that the percent of workload instances of SAP, Oracle DB, and Microsoft SQL that were virtualised roughly doubled from 2010 to 2012.

Let me review the benefits of virtualisation

I’m not even sure why I’m bothering to recap the benefits of virtualisation. I guess it’s for the Rip Van Winkles among us. If, by chance, you’ve been sleeping for the last century, virtualisation allows you to consolidate and run applications onto fewer physical servers, which drives up your server utilization rates and cuts down on your operational costs. Additionally, virtualisation enables quick provisioning and deployment, improved workload balancing, and enhanced resiliency and availability by giving you the ability to dynamically move VMs from server to server.

What we are now figuring out (and some of you are more ahead than others) is that virtualisation and cloud computing are a match made in heaven.

Vitualisation’s benefits can be enhanced when VMs are run on a cloud service. More specifically, a managed cloud service.

For example, one of virtualisation’s key benefits is that companies can make more efficient use of their IT resources. This benefit is compounded when using a cloud infrastructure service. That’s because cloud infrastructure services let you optimize capacity based on needs. Basically, you only have to pay for the resources required to satisfy the performance characteristics of your VMs. If you need more capacity or compute power, i.e., more of your users need access to the same application or your database doubles in size, you can leverage the cloud provider’s infrastructure to meet these new demands rather than build your own.

Also, virtualisation gives you a way to easily migrate and balance workloads based on performance requirements. This is particularly useful when your workloads are unpredictable or vary greatly. An extreme example of this is the workload an e-commerce site might experience on Cyber Monday or after a major advertising campaign launches. With an on-premises solution, you would need to pre-plan and provision spare capacity in order to balance the spike in workloads. With a cloud service, you could ask your cloud provider to proactively add more capacity in anticipation of a spike in the workload. And once your activity has returned to normal levels and that spare capacity is no longer needed, you can reduce your requirements with the provider.

A few points for you to consider when migrating virtualised applications from an on-premises infrastructure to a cloud service…

The most important thing is that you need to carefully evaluate the mission-critical nature of your various applications and their needs against the available cloud service provider offerings. Not all applications are treated equally, nor should they be. As a result, some will be a good fit for cloud and others a good fit for managed hosting services. Your personnel, customers, and partners today demand 24/7 access to mission-critical and business-critical applications. At the same time, you need to ensure the security and stability of those applications.

Because downtime leads to lost productivity, lost revenue, and perhaps the permanent loss of customers and clients, you need high availability and a reliable and predictable way to recover your VMs. That means your cloud provider must have the expertise and automation solutions to ensure that your availability and recovery time objectives (RTOs) are met.

If you have requirements for data protection or the need to meet regulatory obligations, you might want to pick a secure, managed cloud service or a private cloud solution. The bottom line is, you will want to review your workloads and determine which are best-suited for a cloud treatment and which may need to remain in a more traditional virtualised environment.

To find out more, why not download the Cloud Workload Migration white paper, or review our other cloud posts.

Simon Withers

About Simon Withers

Simon Withers has now spent over 24 years in Information Technology. Simon joined Sungard Availability Services as one of the original members of the team who founded the Managed Web Hosting division, which has since evolved into Managed Services. Simon’s current focus is the future service development and global strategy of SunGard’s Infrastructure as a Service, leading a global product management team. This remit includes the development of the Cloud infrastructure Services, Storage as a Service, Managed Server portfolio and the Security portfolio. Prior to his current focus, Simon is credited with developing and launching SunGard’s First Private Cloud offering, CWP (Continuous Web Presence), EAS (Email Availability Services), Managed Storage, Replication services and in 2014 Sungard AS new Public Cloud and a UK Secure IL3 accredited government cloud platform. Simon’s plethora of experience in Internet, System, Storage, Virtualisation and Security technologies are central to informing his current role. Simon is a recognised thought leader on future and emerging technologies, and regularly contributes to analyst engagements as well as to conference, panel, seminar, webinar, traditional and social media fora. His most recent activities have addressed issues associated with Cloud Computing, Hybrid IT, and ‘Always-on’ computing for such entities as The 451 Group, Gartner, CIO Connect, CIO 100, The Cloud Circle, Intellect, The Guardian Media Group, Forbes.com, NetworkWorld, Cloud Connect, IP Expo and many more.
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