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2009: The Year of the Cloud

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

Contributed by Jake Sorofman, VP at rPath 

2009: The Year of the Cloud 

2008 ends at an interesting time.

Of course, in this context, “interesting” is the unmistakable polite cocktail party euphemism for pensive concern. Despite a faintly detectable hopefulness (it’s there if you look for it), there is an overriding anxiety about a deepening global recession.

But against this backdrop, a transformation is taking place inside of IT organizations, which are retooling to weather the storm and to deal with the stark reality that the traditional rigid, capital-intensive economics of computing no longer work. Virtualization and cloud computing are game-changers for computing, allowing organizations to dramatically reduce capital costs, better manage operating expenses and become more agile and responsive to change. Of course, these types of benefits don’t come without a cost; it’s practically a truism in IT that any gain in flexibility will yield an increase in architectural complexity.

As we turn the page to 2009, I wanted to offer a few predictions for the worlds of virtualization and cloud. Here are the areas to watch closely in the next year.

Offered in no particular order:

1) The Hypervisor Goes Vertical

Analysts predict that hypervisors will soon become the primary boot option for new server infrastructure. This may be at odds with hardware vendors’ goals of selling more servers, but the hypervisor is one of those truly disruptive innovations that can’t be wished away — it’s here to stay because it delivers unmistakable value to customers. Carving up server capacity offers serious improvements in infrastructure utilization and major reductions in capital and operating expense. This is music to any CFO’s ears, and it’s the primary reason that hypervisor penetration will increase decidedly in 2009.

2) Enterprise Application Virtualization Emerges

“The Deployment Gap” is the space and time between application development and production operations. It used to take forever or longer to deploy new application functionality because of an inherent friction in the process — the process of pairing hardware with software has always been manual and cumbersome from start to finish. The hypervisor takes the friction out of the hardware side, but the software side of the equation is largely unchanged. Taking application snapshots is an ad hoc approach to an inherently systematic problem. Today’s enterprise applications are complex, interdependent and ever changing. This is why, in 2009, we’ll see enterprises getting serious about an architecture for managing virtualized application workloads, ensuring control of the creation, deployment and change of these applications across their lifecycle and providing a scalable onramp to virtualized application deployment and management.

3) Virtual Machine Sprawl is the New Hell

Web Services Hell, Configuration Hell — we’ve been here before. The rapid proliferation of one-offs that occurs independent of a systematic process for management and control is not a new phenomenon. Today, some 25% of application workload is delivered as VMs. That’s pretty impressive, but I believe we’ll see huge growth in the volume of virtual machines over the next year. The rapid deployment advantage of virtual applications will lead to chaotic, unmanaged proliferation — the virtual machine tsunami — swamping the legacy, horizontal system management approaches and transferring the problem from applications to operations. Virtualization and cloud are a freight train fueled by a down economy. Few organizations are counting on incremental IT resources next year — but application workload delivered as virtual machines will grow exponentially in 2009, and the cost and complexity of managing and maintaining the virtual machine sprawl is poised to explode. While this is good news for business agility by taking the friction out of application deployment, it spells potential disaster for IT operations. This is why VM sprawl will be one of the most urgent, hair-on-fire challenges of 2009.

4) Rogue Applications Leak to the Cloud

Risk abounds for IT operations as application workload finds the path of least resistance for deployment in external clouds. We’ll see Amazon EC2 demand continue to skyrocket as an escape valve for lines of business who sidestep IT in order to deploy applications more rapidly. These rogue deployments will put backpressure on IT ops to create their own internal cloud or to provide a management framework that ensures control of applications in Amazon EC2 and other external clouds. The reality is that most IT departments have not yet found a way to consistently say “yes” to requests for new capacity because of capital spending constraints and high friction processes for getting applications into production. As a result, rouge applications will leak to the cloud at an accelerated rate in 2009.

5) The CIO Gets a Cloud Mandate

All of these predictions add up to one final capstone prediction for 2009: CIOs will get a true mandate for cloud computing. The confluence of economic malaise, the need for speed, the risk factors of VM sprawl, and the emergence of a high-profile proof point in Amazon EC2 will put pressure on CIOs in 2009 to develop a comprehensive strategy for transforming IT as a cloud-based service. Of course this transformation won’t happen overnight. 2009 will be about incremental, stepwise investments to cloud and a systematic architectural approach to virtualized application deployment and management. Cloud is an IT elephant, and the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

What’s the probability of these predictions? I think they’re pretty close to assured as the key events, issues and agenda items for 2009. But you tell me.  Did I get it right? Either let me know now, or reach out in the New Year, once history is on our side.

Best wishes for health, peace and prosperity in 2009, The Year of the Cloud.

About Jake Sorofman

Jake is a seasoned software marketing executive with a strong product strategy and communications background. Previously, he was SVP of marketing and business development for JustSystems, the largest ISV in Japan and a leader in XML technologies. Before that, Jake was VP of product marketing with Mercury Interactive (now part of HP Software), where he was responsible for the Systinet product line. He joined Mercury though Mercury's $105 million acquisition of Systinet Corporation. Before Mercury, Jake led marketing for two WebSphere products at IBM Software Group, which he joined through the acquisition of Venetica. Prior to Venetica, Jake was director of product marketing with Documentum, Inc. (now part of EMC), which he joined through the acquisition of eRoom Technology.

Jake has a BA in english and political science from University of New Hampshire and an MBA from the McCallum Graduate School of Business at Bentley College, where he was an American Marketing Association George Hay Brown Scholar.

Published Thursday, December 11, 2008 5:39 AM by David Marshall
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