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2010 Prediction: IT gets smart about server virtualization and focuses on desktop virtualization, virtual networking and virtual appliances

What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2010?  Find out in this VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed Article by Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of the datacenter and cloud division at Citrix Systems

2010 Prediction: IT gets smart about server virtualization and focuses on desktop virtualization, virtual networking and virtual appliances

I'm returning from a trip to Cambridge-the home of the Citrix Xen development team who maintain Xen.org and our contributions to the Xen Client Initiative and Xen Client Platform, and who also produce Citrix XenServer and XenClient.  Spending time with one of the world's best technical engineering teams is an incredible privilege and I treasure every moment, such as seeing first-hand the latest developments and results from our comparative performance tests.

As I write this, the Copenhagen Climate Conference is approaching crunch time. While the diplomats tussle over abstract, "squishy" targets, I have been fortunate to be able to acknowledge the tremendous contribution that our team, together with the Xen community, has made to the industry and our planet. 

In 2009, XenServer helped to reduce CO2 output by an estimated 5 million tons, and when you include the footprint of all Xen variants, including EC2, Rackspace, SoftLayer and other large Xen clouds, I think it is fair to say that the Xen community has delivered a greater contribution to reductions in CO2 than any other open source project, and a greater contribution per developer than any other software product.  We all owe the Xen community a debt of thanks. And as importantly, we owe future generations a duty of care in how we develop our IT environments.  So let's start 2010 with a resolution to virtualize every server.  Keep track of your own carbon footprint and see what a difference you can make.  The average American generates about 20 metric tons of CO2 per year.  According to VMware, each server you run generates about 4. When you virtualize your next server with (free) XenServer, and run 10 VMs, you will save 40 tons-giving you a net carbon footprint of-20 tons. A great contribution.

My predictions for 2010?

Will this be the year that VMware customers finally realize that they are paying twice for the benefits of Moore's Law (once for the server and once for the hypervisor that lets them use it)? Certainly more than a few have made the switch to Xen or Hyper-V, and I predict very substantial growth next year.  XenServer will finish 2009 having added about 35,000 customers.  I'll go out on a limb, and predict that we'll double that number in 2010. Having seen what's cooking in Cambridge, I can also predict with absolute confidence that independent benchmarks will show that XenServer beats every other hypervisor in performance and scalability, for all workloads. 

2010 will be a year of real change in virtual networking.  Cisco, whose innovative Nexus 1000V virtual switch for VMware relies on its VN-Tag and VN-Link protocols, will find itself having to adopt the IEEE 802 standard protocols for Virtualized Ethernet Bridging, which have developed based on a counter proposal from HP and others. Virtual switching will dramatically change the way that enterprises manage their virtual environments, simplifying network configuration and reducing errors.  At the same time, virtual switching will challenge the virtual appliance vendors that have hitherto managed to snoop traffic on the hypervisor by connecting to a promiscuous port on the software bridge in the hypervisor.   

Further challenges for the virtual appliance vendors will come as SR-IOV hardware I/O virtualization goes mainstream in the later part of 2010. Suddenly it will be possible to plug a virtualization-safe NIC into a VM, meaning that VMs become hardware specific once again, and that all packets leave the server.  "Bump in the Wire" virtual appliance vendors that do not have a good strategy in the area of virtual switching, will fall by the wayside.

Getting out of the virtual infrastructure tussle, I predict an extremely rapid ramp in the virtual desktop market.  I suspect that the Windows 7 upgrade cycle (and the disappearance of support for Windows XP in 2011) will be one of the key motivators. Now is the time to upgrade your users to Windows 7. It's smaller, zippier and offers great app compatibility. It's also fully supported on XenServer now. So rather than having to deploy Windows 7 on all those legacy PCs, you can deliver it as a service using XenDesktop 4 with HDX- without having to go near the desktop hardware. 

It will be interesting to chart the development of Google's Chromium OS, now with a built-in KVM style hypervisor. It's probably safe to predict that Chromium based desktop appliances will appear in the not too distant future, driving the cost of tethered user devices downward. But Chromium faces its own challenges-not the least of which is the notion that every app be browser based. It will take time to deliver a comprehensive application suite and so adoption will be slower than many might like to predict.

 

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About the Author

Simon Crosby is chief technology officer of the datacenter and cloud division at Citrix Systems.  He joined Citrix in 2007 through the acquisition of XenSource, where he was founder and chief technology officer. Previously, Crosby was a principal engineer at Intel where he led strategic research in distributed autonomic computing, platform security and trust. He was also the founder of CPlane Inc., a network optimization software vendor, where he held a variety of executive roles. Prior to CPlane, Crosby was a tenured faculty member at the University of Cambridge, where he led research on network performance and control and multimedia operating systems. He is the author of more than 35 research papers and patents on a number of data center and networking topics including security, network and server virtualization, resource optimization and performance. In 2007, Crosby was awarded a coveted spot as one of InfoWorld's Top 25 CTOs, and in 2008 eWEEK nominated him as one of the 100 most influential leaders in IT.

Published Monday, December 21, 2009 6:15 AM by David Marshall
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