By David Clarke, CIO (UK) | Jul 5, 2012
In the early days the emphasis was on virtualisation. Organisations concentrated on increasing the number of servers on one machine using a hypervisor program with the activities kept in-house.
More recently there has been an emphasis on cloud computing, with more functions passing into the hands of a third party. The latter includes the option for a private cloud, dedicated to one enterprise.
Virtualisation and private cloud strategies are sometimes confused, not helped by the varying definitions.
The strongest distinction is that virtualised technology is a fixture of an IT estate while cloud computing is offered as an on-demand service, for platform, infrastructure or software, available on a pay-as-you-go basis.
Cloud is currently drawing more attention, with the government opening the Cloudstore for the public sector and a stream of big deals in the private sector, recent examples being at Deloitte and Proctor & Gamble.
But there is still a steady, if more low key, move to virtualised environments, with recent deals for organisations such as Thames Water and Medway NHS Trust. Also, Forrester has recently predicted a rise in demand for data virtualisation technology.
As organisations consider which route to take they have to look closely at which is better to meet their business needs.
This can be difficult, not least because both are often described in language which bears little relation to business processes, but there are a number of factors that should be taken into account.
Cost is the most obvious. It will be higher for virtualisation as it involves a considerable amount of work in setting-up and customising, while the provider of a cloud service has already borne these costs.