It's getting to the point where talking about virtualization is like talking about the weather: important, yes, but not worthy of too much attention until something goes wrong.
But while much of the industry has moved on to the new and exciting fields of cloud computing and unified communications, there are still plenty of infrastructure issues that virtualization needs to address before the cloud can truly come into its own. And although the virtualization waters might look calm at the moment, there are a lot of cross currents just below the surface that could shake the technology up in the near future.
Jeff Vance at IT Management offers a number of reasons why virtualization will remain vital in the coming year. Economic constraints probably will be with us for the next 12 months at least, and there are still plenty of servers and storage capacity left to be virtualized. Add in the growing fields of I/O virtualization, desktop virtualization, application virtualization and numerous other flavors, and it's clear that we've only just begun to tap its potential.
But even if we're talking strictly server virtualization, there's still more than meets the eye than plain old consolidation. As Mark Fontecchio points out in this article, consolidation was already old hat to the legions of techies who cut their teeth in the mainframe days. But once you get into areas like automated server provisioning, you have the potential to radically alter the work environment in the data center. Imagine it: Create a virtual environment, rearrange it and then dispose of it in a matter of minutes, even in a live production environment. It's a level of functionality that could only be dreamed of just a few short years ago.
But if you think all of this is going to roll out like clockwork, think again. In this piece on Redmond Magazine, Daniel and Nelson Ruest look under the surface to the competitive pressures building up between VMware, Microsoft and Citrix, each of which approaches the underlying concepts of virtualization in a different way. Support for each system will bring different features and could cause headaches down the road if your chosen platform fails to thrive in what looks to be a very competitive market.
So is it fair to say that virtualization has "jumped the shark"? After all, when a staid group like the insurance industry starts waxing poetic about a particular technology, there is certainly reason to suspect it no longer owns the cutting edge. But even if it has, who really cares? The name of the game is to increase the value of IT for your organization. And on that score, virtualization will be tough to beat.