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2009 in Virtualization and Cloud Computing: The Year of the Virtualization Professional

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

Contributed by Patrick Kerpan, CTO, CohesiveFT

2009 in Virtualization and Cloud Computing: The Year of the Virtualization Professional

2009 in Virtualization and Cloud Computing: The Year of the Virtualization Professional Virtualization is the key architectural break that is driving a massive transformation in the world of computing, a transformation that will affect the way businesses work and people live. It is computing “gone through the looking glass”. Ten years from now we will look back and say “how did we used to do that before...”, just like we do when reflecting on personal computing or the Internet.

When, exactly, did computing, like Alice in Wonderland, press against the mirror and fall through? My guess is sometime after VMware began driving this modern wave of virtualization (I know, I know, IBM mainframes had “virtualization”) and sometime before this year.

Think back to the “relatively” simple trick of virtual memory. Many of you remember, those of you younger can look it up on Wikipedia. We went from counting bytes and manipulating overlay files to virtually unlimited memory. This transformed how we built software systems. It changed the skill set of whole sections of the programming profession. People who couldn't get used to “wasting” memory potentially slowed projects down, despite the fact that a year or two before, their special skills in memory paucity made them saviors.

Just as virtual memory meant nearly unlimited memory for your application – virtualization means a future of nearly an unlimited number of computing devices. But that's a few years off.

What does this mean for 2009? Well – 2008 was the year that began to prove the model; leading vendors like VMware, Citrix and Microsoft showed continued and clear commitment to the market, the first wave of virtualization startups that didn't survive provided some clarity in the shape of the market structure, trade press and analysts really started to pay attention, and the powerful complementary trend of cloud computing emerged as a “top of mind” topic. In short, 2009 is the year things begin to “get real”. (2010 is shaping up as the beginning of “the harvest” for this new market but that's for another day.)

This coming year brings two markets to deal with; customers with “cloud intent”, working diligently to derive value from virtualized infrastructure now, and the beginnings of the traditional enterprise market, always a 10 year acculturation to concepts, vendors, and products. Those customers with “cloud intent” (comprised of a mix of Web 2.0 companies, SMB, and Enterprises) are the most likely to move whole parts of discrete infrastructure to cloud computing centers (Amazon EC2, Flexiscale, GoGrid, ElasticHosts, etc.). Traditional enterprise will want to have “hybrid clouds”; virtual infrastructure in their private data centers connected to cloud facilities for “fill in the blank” reasons (experimentation, high watermark, overflow, seasonal, business unit politics, and more).

Another 2009, “getting real” data point is Gartner Group's top 10 technologies for '09. In case you didn't see it Virtualization is #1 and Cloud Computing is #2. But if you just stopped there, look further for the impact of virtualization. “Servers Beyond Blades” (#3) is about hardware becoming more dynamic. As the software platform becomes more dynamic, it drives the hardware platform in those directions as well. “Specialized Systems” (#6) hearkens to the emergence of deployable clusters of technologies – well beyond the simple virtual appliance in sophistication and power. And of course, 2008's #1 is this coming year's #10, Green IT. It has gone from a priority, to a by-product of the larger trends of virtualization, cloud computing, and servers beyond blades.

So here we are on the cusp of '09. The virtualization vendors continue to extend and differentiate as much as they standardize, new clouds announce almost weekly, SaaS is a foregone conclusion as a strategy for the enterprise, PaaS is growing in popularity, the OS vendors are creating virtualizationtuned distributions, and open source as the source of corporate middleware increases in scope. Each of these market solutions has the potential to create economic opportunity for the enterprise. When combined, the skills to leverage them isn't the same old job. Enterprise IT staff at the forefront as users and buyers of this confluence are a new type of IT professional, the  virtualization and cloud computing professional.

Do the math. What is the ubiquity of virtualization? Pick your number. How about Virtual Machines per server? You pick. Refresh rate per year. You pick. It doesn't take a lot of arithmetic to see that we are going to end up with multiples of an order of magnitude of new computing device every year compared to the not too distant past. As an industry if we are assembling, using, and discarding 10 million VMs per year, 20 million, 50 million, 250 million maybe by 2015, then some things have to change.

Again, think of the impact of virtual memory. Then by comparison to "unlimited application memory", consider an unlimited number of computing devices. IT professionals who understand that “wasting” servers, assembling huge numbers of servers, using huge numbers of servers and discarding them will have an advantage over previous approaches which scripted, sculpted, and nurtured servers to maximize the return and life of a single computing device (the physical server).

Emergency? Opportunity? Probably a bit of both. But, then again, the year is only 2009. We are just starting to get real. You have a couple of years to get ready for this new reality, well actually, virtuality.

Happy New Year.
Patrick Kerpan, CTO, CohesiveFT

About Patrick Kerpan
Patrick Kerpan is the chief technology officer (CTO) for CohesiveFT, the provider of the Elastic Server Platform, enabling customers to assemblw, deploy and manage servers and clusters of servers for virtualized infrastructure and cloud computing. In this role, Kerpan is responsible for directing product and technology strategy.

Keep up with CohesiveFT at, and

Published Wednesday, December 10, 2008 5:44 AM by David Marshall
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