Now that virtualization technology is making significant headway in the enterprise, there's a growing concern among IT pros that without some sort of overall virtual architecture in place, they'll simply be left with a mish-mash of virtuality with no rhyme or reason to guide future expansion.
To that end, I'd like to offer what little help I can in this and future blogs as to exactly what the future virtual data center may, repeat may, look like.
First of all, it seems pretty clear that the number of physical servers will diminish, but by how much is anyone's guess. Already, analysts are predicting a sharp drop in what was expected to be a significant increase in the number of servers being shipped this year.
But the servers that do remain will likely become more flexible, taking on a number of tasks that are now dedicated to single servers or appliances. Load balancing, spam filtering, security, and a host of other functions are all slated to become part of the virtual infrastructure in the near future.
IBM is staking out a leading position in this trend by tying the virtualization tools on the System p server with its SOA-based middleware. The company has identified a number of SOA "entry points" and has devised virtual configurations for each point so as to better manage traffic and processes over the network.
And Linux users will be happy to know that they are not being left behind either. In fact, they may be farther ahead than most people realize. Red Hat, for one, recently beefed up its platform with Xen virtualization. While the immediate benefit is that processor loads will be more evenly distributed, a key advantage in the future will be to offer virtualized applications as services without overloading the physical architecture.
Is that all the future holds, then? Not by a long shot. But as the guys in the lab keep coming up with new ideas, I'll keep you posted.