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Vizioncore's Virtualization Outlook 2009

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

Contributed by Jason Mattox, Chief Technical Officer, Vice President of Support & Product Management 

Virtualization Outlook 2009

If there ever was a technology that could be associated with “instant karma,” that would be virtualization.  No other technology in recent history has the potential for such immediate positive impacts from its deployment which explains why virtualization adoption is on the rise and, if anything, will play a bigger role in IT infrastructures in the coming years.

Analyst Thomas Bittman, who follows virtualization trends for Gartner, remarked at the recent Gartner Data Center Conference that fully 70 percent of all data centers are using virtual machines in some sort of production environments up from only two or three years ago, when virtualization was relegated to testing and development.    According to Bittman, over the next five years, the installed base of VMs will grow more than tenfold between 2007 and 2011.  By 2012, the majority of x86 server workloads will be running in a VM.

So what are the five big trends to wrap your mind around with x86 virtualization in 2009?

Making The Many Look Like One

The first stage for many adopters focused on creating multiple VM images within one physical resource. In other words, make one large system look like many.  But the next phase will involve making the many look like one from both the management and user perspectives.

The vision of endless linked computing resources all working together to share information and move it rapidly to whomever requires it has been a dream for decades.   The latest iteration of this concept is the cloud which is just a simple term for a highly complex infrastructure that allows users to access services  without either knowledge of or control over the systems that provide them.  All the heavy work is done by servers on the back end, and the clients – which include desktops, entertainment centers, tablet computers, notebooks, wall computers, handhelds, sensors, monitors – stay very light, and therefore secure, and  simply get temporary use of these services.   Open standards was the first major catalyst to move this vision forward.  Virtualization, with its ability to decouple all the software in an enterprise from the hardware, is the next.

One caveat here though.  Compliance issues will keep the “cloud” from being very widely adopted until we have acceptable security standards for hosting resources on shared infrastructures.  The issue of virtualization security will rise to become a top focus not only for virtualization vendors but also standards bodies.  It’s not that virtualized systems are less secure than existing physical ones, but the risks are greater if a host is compromised as tens of VMs, if not hundreds, can be affected at a time.

Portability of Virtual Machines From One Platform to Another

It may be that virtualization is really able to, once and for all, quash the limiting effects of proprietary technologies on our IT systems.  Project Kensho, announced by Citrix earlier this year, is an open standards effort that uses the open source Open Virtualization Format to support interoperability among hypervisors.  Microsoft has also stated that they will support cross-platform portability.  This development could have huge implications for how data centers come together in future.  Yes, we will have heterogenous VMs running side by side, but they will not nearly be as stove-piped and inflexible as the physical systems that refused to work nicely together.

In the open virtualized environment, the user will be free to try systems, choose those that optimally support the application they want to run and, if they want, to shift to other systems with no penalty.  Another key advantage is that ISVs can create single offerings that can run on multiple virtual platforms.

Common Management Tasks Become Easier

The next wave of virtualization innovations can simplify IT management because it can make the many look like one from a management perspective.   Even at this very early stage of the game, you can make your VMs look a lot like each other and apply standards much more easily than anything that existed in the physical world.  And this is a very big deal.  Management labor costs generally far exceed server hardware costs.   The common areas for server management and administration include system maintenance, system monitoring, upgrades and patches, etc., planning for upgrades, expansion and capacity, migration, maintenance and tuning, and initial system and software deployment.  In the next year, virtualization vendors,  including us at Vizioncore, are going to be offering tools that allow for easier management and monitoring of your virtualized systems, allowing users to automate repetitive tasks and procedures for greater efficiencies. 

Going Way Beyond Server Virtualization

Server virtualization typically accounts for the majority of virtualized systems in a company today, but desktop and application virtualization will soon catch up and, in a few years, account for the vast majority of virtualized systems in many organizations.   Desktop and application virtualization allow quick and easy deployment of applications and services to users who will be using thin clients.  Both kinds of virtualization promise to greatly simplify PC lifecycle management and increase efficiency and security at the desktop level.

Hitting a Virtualization Skills Shortage

Virtualization proficiency finally hit the list in Redmond Magazine’s 2008 Salary Survey.  So it’s official, virtualization is on the map.   However, given the growth in this field, it looks like there is going to be a lot more virtualization savvy specialists needed out there and the demand is very likely to outstrip the supply.  The process of “home-growing” your own virtualization experts, which is how many organizations – both providers and users – have tackled this in the past few years is just not sustainable.  Look for an influx of education providers to address this need but also short-term bidding wars for virtualization-savvy specialists.   Certification programs, however, will be key in distinguishing the true professionals in this area.

About Jason Mattox

Jason Mattox is Vice President for Support & Product Management at Vizioncore Inc. With over a decade of experience in the IT consulting industry, focused on consolidation and virtualization from the desktop to the enterprise level, Mattox acquired extensive expertise working with technology challenges facing large organizations. A hands-on technologist, Mattox’s background led to his designing many of Vizioncores leading products that help customers manage, monitor and optimize the performance of their virtual infrastructures.  Today, in addition to his role of overseeing delivery of the product management team, Mattox also heads the Support Services group at Vizioncore.   Mattox also regularly delivers presentation on virtualization topics in such venues as VMworld and pod and video casts at a number of leading IT publications.

Published Friday, December 12, 2008 5:39 AM by David Marshall
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