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Reflex Systems - Virtualization Outlook for 2009

What do virtualization executives think about 2009?  A VMBlog.com Series Exclusive.

Contributed by Hezi Moore, CTO and Founder, Reflex Systems

Virtualization Outlook for 2009

The virtualization train is leaving the station in 2009 and your organization better be on board. Virtualization has changed the game for data centers and an accelerated market adoption in 2009 will further prove this to be true.  While we have seen several organizations test the virtual waters to date, many more will jump in head-first in the year ahead.   Several market forces have put hypervisors front and center and this rapid adoption will cause virtualization to be the cornerstone of the next generation data center. 

Barriers to adoption have lifted

Any new technology almost always has barriers to being accepted and virtualization is no exception.   Several stars have aligned that have removed nearly every barrier to expanded adoption of virtualization.  Let’s take a look at the barriers that virtualization has faced and how they are rapidly fading:

New Technology – While virtualization is not actually new (early forms have been around since the 70s), virtualization for x86 hardware platform with data center quality performance is relatively new and only dates back several years.  With the performance of modern hypervisors finally rivaling hardware equivalents, virtualization is now a proven solution in production environments in most every Fortune 500 company today.  If one looks to the adoption of any technology as a guide, whether it is the automobile, the microwave, or the personal computer, they will see that once the technology was proven, market adoption became mainstream.  Virtualization has now reached such critical mass. 

Cost – Like any new technology, virtualization was expensive at first.  VMware, Microsoft, and others now offer free versions of their hypervisors and the cost of a paid license has dropped to a fraction of what it was just three years ago. Hypervisors are now commodity priced.  This has made going virtual “no-brainer” decision for organizations looking to trim costs.

Security – New technologies always bring out the fear in people.  When modern virtualized computing was new on the scene a lot of people were hypothesizing about the perceived and real increased security risks.  As solutions that ensure virtualization security have become more mature, security pundits that once said that virtualization was insecure are now starting to trust virtualization and beginning to support deployments of virtualized data centers.  Security has now even become a feature within robust management solutions focused on virtual infrastructure.  Decision makers have now realized that there are ways to secure these environments and their low-cost further justifies adoption.  Even well-known hardware-based companies like Cisco have now acknowledged market acceptance by announcing that their secure switch is being offered in a virtual version.  

Management – A market that once seemed to wait to see which hypervisor would win the race have now conceded that multiple hypervisors (from VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, and others) can and will co-exist in the data center.  We are not going to see standardization on one single platform and there is a need for centralized management of the virtual infrastructure across multiple platforms.  Traditional management vendors are not market innovators in virtualization, they are lagging behind.    The existing physical solutions will not address the challenges of the virtualized data center.  Solutions that are purpose-built for virtual environments have emerged to solve the specific issues of the next generation, application-centric data centers that are more dynamic and require a different level of visibility and control.  Just as IBM’s Tivoli and HP’s OpenView solved these challenges for the legacy data center, vendors such as Reflex Systems are solving these issues for the next generation virtual data center.

The Green Factor and the Economy

Going green became hip in 2007 and 2008 as an earth-saving and marketing-based initiative to push companies to go virtual.  In 2009 we will continue to see a push in technologies that help company’s go green.  Virtualization will remain the key factor in data centers going green but this will also extend to the desktop with the growing acceptance of VDI.  VDI will be touted as a green technology because even outdated hardware located on physical desktops is able to run a robust desktop experience when VDI is the desktop.  The reduction of PCs going into landfills is the obvious benefit. 

The downturn in the economy will have related effects on the growth of virtualization and in many instances will be joined with the goal of going green.  A common corporate theme has emerged with the fallout of the economy -- cut costs wherever and whenever you can to survive. Organizations will continue to consolidate physical servers, virtualize applications and services, and explore the trend of “computing-on-demand” where organizations utilize data center hosting companies to run more efficient, effective resources and applications.  The quantifiable benefits of reducing CAPEX and OPEX, energy savings, increased flexibility, improved disaster recovery, increased security, and better systems management are fueling this shift toward going green and leveraging virtualization.

Green initiatives and cost-saving measures can and will be achieved simultaneously with the expansion of virtualization in the data center and on the desktop.  Both initiatives have these common goals that companies will strive to achieve with virtualization in 2009 and beyond; A reduction in physical servers, a reduction in the physical size of data centers, a reduction in cooling costs, a reduction in landfill and disposal costs.

Next generation data center will become a reality

The continued adoption of virtualization will help companies realize the next generation data center.  The next generation data center is going to be more dynamic, application and service centric, and provide more efficient and reliable service to users. The next generation data center will be defined as one that is modular, cost-efficient, and green when compared to the typical data center of yesterday.  Virtualization is the driving force that will aid organizations in achieving this reality in 2009 and beyond.

The key to accelerating adoption of next generation virtualized data centers is to address the unique challenges, such as monitoring the dynamic environment, maintaining secure configuration, cross-functional management, and regulatory compliance,  while capitalizing on the virtualization investment. Through proper management of these new virtual technologies, applications will increasingly be virtualized, desktops will continue to migrate to VDI technologies, and IT will emerge as more streamlined, more centralized, and more secure. 

Once the data center fully realizes the potential of properly managed virtualization, several barriers to other technologies will fade.  For instance, Cloud Computing will increasingly become more prevalent once more servers and desktops are virtualized because migrations to servers in the Cloud will be as easy as dragging an dropping an icon onto a remote server.   Software as a service will also begin to see more rapid adoption with the reality of true Cloud computing and hosting and hardware companies such as Savvis and Terremark will stand to benefit.

Conclusion

With the barriers to market adoption out of the way, and maturation of quality solutions to manage and secure virtual infrastructure, the year ahead brings promising times for virtualization.    Companies will be forced to cut costs due to the decline in the economy.  Furthermore they will use this opportunity to be increasingly green in their operations.  As the next generation data center becomes a reality for more and more companies, several benefits will be realized.  Yes, the virtualization train is boarding now for 2009 and you better have your ticket in hand or you’ll be left behind.

Hezi Moore, CTO and Founder, Reflex Systems

Published Tuesday, December 09, 2008 6:04 AM by David Marshall
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