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What is the difference between virtualization and private cloud?

I promised in an earlier post to talk more about customer
practices in evolving to cloud computing. 
Specifically, one of the questions we get around cloud evolution is, “My
organization has adopted vSphere and virtualized the majority of our internal datacenter
resources.  Does this mean I have a
private cloud?”  There actually are some critical
differences between an environment with large amounts of virtualization and one
with a private cloud.

Many of you probably had a chance to travel during the
recent long weekend.  For those of you
who travel by air frequently, you’ve probably noticed that the time required to
check-in and get boarding passes has dramatically come down in the last ten
years.  I still remember the old days
when getting a boarding pass required standing in a long line with a paper
ticket.  The airlines initially took a lot of cost out of the process by implementing unified electronic ticketing
systems.  These electronic systems drove
a lot of consolidation and consistent management for the airlines.  But most of us as passengers barely felt any
impact from those internal operational efficiencies.

We felt the impact when the airlines finally introduced
self-check-in kiosks.  Self-check-in
kiosks did reduce costs for the airlines. 
But the real impact of self-check-in kiosks was to:

  • increase the number of passengers that a ticketing agent could process
  • decrease the amount of time that a passenger had to wait get what they needed

This is what cloud computing is all about. 

And if you don’t believe me, check out what Malaysia
Airlines just launched at Kuala Lumpur Sentral Station:  http://www.etravelblackboard.com/showarticle.asp?id=105995&nav=2

IT organizations have gained a lot of operational
efficiencies from virtualization. 
Consolidating infrastructure and unifying management has definitely
helped to reduce costs.  But have line of
business users really felt the impact yet? 
Perhaps they have felt some, but they will certainly feel the impact
when IT implements a private cloud.

Much like the self-check-in kiosks at the airport, a private
cloud

  • increases the number of provisioning requests
    that an IT admin can process
  • decreases the amount of time that a user has to
    wait to get what they need

A private cloud also offers additional economic
benefit.  In the airport example, when
customers know they have to wait a long time to be checked in, all they could
do is show up to the airport earlier. 
But in the IT world, when users realize there is a long cycle time for
IT provisioning, they start requesting more resources than they actually need
to hedge against the long provisioning cycle. 
By offering the promise of immediate self-service, through a VM catalog attached
to chargeback, business users are more likely to consume only what they need,
which itself will drive down overall costs.

So although extensive virtualization and private cloud both address
cost reduction, private cloud really is about something more.  It’s about getting business users to finally
feeling the impact of IT evolution.  It’s
about making the process of getting IT resources as easy as it is to get a
boarding pass at the airport.  In
following posts, I’ll talk more about specific customers who have done this
inside their environments. 

 

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