To complete my three post offering of the three short papers I drafted in Communications Technology Convergence, what appears below is a complete copy of my paper on the need for virtualization in the cloud. For the uninitiated (or just curious) this paper provides insight into why virtualization is a critical aspect of cloud computing. Thanks for taking the time to read it.
Virtualization Is Critical for Cloud Computing
In many ways the subjects of virtualization and cloud computing may seem synonymous with one another, but in reality virtualization is the invisible infrastructure that makes modern cloud computing possible. “Technically, virtualization is emulation. Virtual memory is the use of a disk to store active areas of memory to make the available memory appear larger. In a virtual environment, one computer runs software that allows it to emulate another computer. This kind of emulation is commonly known as virtualization” (Hurwitz, 2010). In fact virtualization comes in four widely recognized forms; Hardware Virtualization, Software Virtualization, Desktop Virtualization, and Storage Virtualization.
The key element of designing a successful cloud service rest in the developer’s ability to optimize systems in its data center. To begin the process of optimization a logical starting point is to develop a strong yet flexible infrastructure. Creating infrastructure in the cloud environment requires a type of specialized software “…called a hypervisor (commonly VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, or Citrix XenServer) to abstract the physical characteristics of a server. This permits multiple guest operating systems to run virtually on a single physical server. The guest virtual machines are not aware that they are sharing physical hardware. More so, the resources of the physical server are better utilized” (Pearce, 2011). In the virtualized environment it also becomes possible to emulate an entire user experience.
Information Technology (IT) professionals can create convenience by hosting virtual user environments through the use of Software Virtualization. Software Virtualization is “…similar to hardware virtualization in that it separates a personal computer desktop environment from a physical machine by either remotely streaming the desktop (commonly VMware View or Citrix XenDesktop). In some cases the entire desktop may be cashed locally, but most solutions simply provide a remote keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) interface via a locally installed application (commonly Citrix Receiver or Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection). The desktops run on high performing servers that are centrally managed and easily deployed by IT” (Pearce, 2011).
Desktop Virtualization “…abstracts logical storage from physical storage. Large pools of disks are divided into smaller logical units that are presented as a single volume but may actually span across many physical disks. This improves performance, increases drive space utilization, and provides redundancy.” (Pearce, 2011) In effect creating efficiency by enabling better administration and stream lining the user’s experience in the virtual setting. Without the increased efficiency of operating in this way users would become bogged down in the environment, and any convenience gained by hosting the virtual desktop would be lost.
By hosting individual sessions in a virtual setting an organization gains the advantage of users having easy access to what appears to be a central stock of resources. Through Storage Virtualization networks of data are “either separate physically attached networks into different virtual networks or combine many separate virtual networks to share the same segments of a large physical network. By creating virtual networks administrators are able to logically group machines and their traffic while better utilizing the physical networking infrastructure” (Pearce, 2011). Networks connected in this way make it easy to share and access information across an organizations infrastructure; work becomes more productive, and decisions get made easier.
Virtualization enables the creation of a uniform and easily scalable computing platform. “Virtualization is the key to cloud computing, since it is the enabling technology allowing the creation of an intelligent abstraction layer which hides the complexity of underlying hardware or software”(Poelker, 2009). Massive scalability and flexibility is gained while providing a confidence building, transparent service to the user.
Without utilizing virtualization in a cloud the flexibility doesn’t exist to provide the scale, or speed of service the cloud is known for. However, building a reliable cloud datacenter requires forethought. “The current virtualization technologies allow packing of a large number of VMs into physical machines thereby increasing the cost efficiency of infrastructure resources . While it seems quite attractive to consolidate multiple tenants into a physical machine, it requires careful planning and management in order to satisfy tenants’ SLAs.” (Xiong, 2011)
Hurwitz, J. K. (2010). Cloud Computing for Dummies. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
Pearce, J. (2011). How does virtualization work?
Poelker, C. (2009). Why virtualization is the foundation of cloud computing
Xiang, Zhu, Moon, Pu, Hacıg¨um¨us. (2011). Intelligent Management of Virtualized Resources for Database Systems.