Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cloud computing Vs Virtualization: Differences and Similarity

Virtualization and Cloud computing are been rapidly embracing the internet techies.With the rapid growth of these technologies, innovative trends captured the whole Home and Business computing platforms.Let us walk through what these technologies aims for and current underlying platforms in web that backs up these ideas.

For new to these technological terms simply speaking “Cloud computing is a technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications. Cloud computing allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth”.A simple example of cloud computing is Yahoo email or Gmail etc. You dont need a software or a server to use them. All a consumer would need is just an internet connection and you can start sending emails. The server and email management software is all on the cloud ( internet) and is totally managed by the cloud service provider Yahoo , Google etc. The consumer gets to use the software alone and enjoy the benefits.

Both the terms Cloud computing  and virtualization  are some way or other interrelated.The basic difference is “virtualization” happens on your own hardware and “cloud computing” happens on someone else’s hardware. At the lowest level they are the same.Virtualization and Private Cloud Computing are inter-related yet clearly different from each other. Virtualization itself can take several forms, from server virtualization, to network, desktop and storage virtualization. In each case, and importantly, virtualization abstracts the resource, i.e. Windows or Linux server, from the underlying physical hardware. The most popular products for virtualization include VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, KVM and Citrix Xen.Private Cloud Computing is the application of Cloud Computing concepts to a privately owned and operated data center(s). Thus, features such as on-demand provisioning, distributed redundant architecture, and self-service administration should be part of a Private Cloud Computing implementation. Companies such as VMware are expanding their Virtualization offerings to support buildout of a full Private Cloud.”Virtualization is simply one of the elements that makes cloud computing, so cloud computing can happen without virtualization..

Glenn Dasmalchi, technical chief of staff in the office of the CTO at Cisco, provides a summary of how cloud computing and virtualization are related, and what advantages are afforded to customers. He also touches on the network play with the cloud-virtualization linkage.

Spoon.net -pioneer in application virtualization and cloud computing technologies

Named by Virtualization Review as one of the top two companies to follow in 2011, Spoon is a pioneer in application virtualization and cloud computing technologies. Spoon enables users to launch desktop applications from the web with no install, so you can test and use applications instantly, wherever you are.Today Spoon.net has over a thousand apps available for launch from the cloud with a simple browser plugin. Imagine what’s coming next.

Spoon is a virtualization platform that lets you run desktop apps from the cloud. If you install the provided plug-in, you will be able to access these applications you love without having to worry about installing or updating them. Since everything is hosted on the cloud, that part is done for you.There is nothing to install, and no need to ensure you have the latest version or patch. As long as you have installed the Spoon plug-in, you will be able to play all the games that are included on the site.Some of the featured apps are TweetDeck, Skype, VLC Media Player, Adobe Reader, WinAmp, GOMPlayer… You can check the best of the best on the main page. And the same goes for the featured games, of course – the best titles are spotlighted for all to see.Visit Spoon.net.

Citrix XenApp-employing Virtualized Applications.
Citrix XenApp is a remote access publishing platform that allows users to connect to their business applications, available from XenApp servers located in central locations (as Data Centers). Applications can be open it in these XenApp servers, using server hardware (CPU, Memory, hard disk, etc), and images are send to user client devices, instead to the server screen. A XenApp client shows the XenApp published applications to users like a local installed application.

XenApp it is a recently name given by Citrix, renamed from Presentation Server, which was originally known it as Metaframe. Citrix renamed the product due inclusion of many features which gave it new functionalities and to create a “line” of virtualization products, which includes XenDesktop and XenServer.

According Citrix, XenApp means:
Xen = Virtualization
App = Application
XenApp = Virtualized Applications

One XenApp server can support many users, generally from 30 to 80 users, depending of the XenApp server hardware specs, application requirements to run and user usage. A set of XenApp server constitute into a Citrix XenApp Farm. A farm can have around 5000 XenApp servers, supporting thousands and thousands of users.To use Citrix XenApp, you need Windows Servers with Terminal Services capabilities and install specific Citrix XenApp client on user machines. XenApp versions have different features, going from Standard/Advanced to Platinum, with more configuration options and integrated products. XenApp client installations will depend of which operational system you will use on client computers, and can be Windows (all versions), Linux, Dos, Mac Os and others.

Example of Citrix XenApp utilization

A new user is hired in a remote site of a company and needs a computer with Microsoft Office, SAP and some legacy applications using a dedicated and limited WAN link. IT department can create his domain and email account and associate domain groups to give him access to XenApp published applications. Then, IT department can send by post a Thin Client to user with instructions about how to plug mouse and keyboard, and how to turn on the device. After turn on the Thin Client, user will asked for his domain credentials and will see a Windows XP interface (blocked to any user software installations) and with all application icons in Start Menu, ready to work.

If for some reason, a XenApp server has a problem, when opening a new application, user will be automatically redirected to other healthy XenApp servers. If user workstation (ThinClient) has a problem, the same user can input his credentials in any other company workstation and have all same interface, applications and files. And if this user is going to visit an external location, he can easily keep one eye on his XenApp applications using his mobile.

If this company decide to migrate all 10.000 users from Microsoft Office 2003 to Microsoft Office 2007, the job can be done in just few hours in a weekend. IT team needs just deploy the new Office into XenApp farm, if everybody in company it is using Citrix XenApp.This is an video from Citrix made in 2003 – which is still very relevant.

Discussion on cloud and virtualization technologies never ends since it involves diversity such as desktop virtualization , storage virtualization as well as  further applications employing these  technologies such as wine, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Browser OS etc .



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