New research on virtualization trends show all signs pointing to the technology evolving beyond the datacenter and into the broader IT environment much sooner than many realized.
Gartner, for one, is predicting that by 2010, virtualization will be the single-most important technology for IT, not just in the datacenter but throughout the enterprise. The company expects that the half-million or so virtual devices in place now, not including desktop systems, will balloon to more than 4 million by the end of the decade. Much of that growth will be driven by the need to cut power and cooling costs for x86 infrastructures. An ironic side effect, though, is the likely increase in demand for larger, more powerful (and power-hungry) servers at the expense of numerous small ones.
Europe seems particularly poised for substantial growth in virtualization. IDC reports that while only a small portion of existing servers are virtualized, more than two-thirds of newly purchased systems were running virtual environments. And more than half of enterprises surveyed said they were planning additional investments around virtualization.
If the market unfolds as predicted, though, many enterprise managers will face a choice between two seemingly unrelated technologies, according to MainFrame Weekly's Trevor Eddolls. While virtualization and on-demand computing seem to be moving in parallel at the moment, both describe a means to make more efficient use of available hardware. The major differences are that while on-demand is easier to implement, virtualization allows you to maintain local control.
Either way, it's vital for the IT folks to communicate to users that there will be a new way of doing business in a few short years. Security and access will undergo major changes, as will compliance and application acquisition. The sooner you start prepping the ground for the changes to come, the easier the transition is likely to be.