Big Things Still in Store for Virtualization

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It seems strange to think that virtualization is becoming the grandaddy of IT technology already. But with the modern version pushing past its first decade in the enterprise, it's fair to say that it has acquired significant graying around the temples.

But just because there is snow on the roof doesn't mean there isn't fire in the furnace, and judging by expected developments in the coming year, virtualization still has a lot to offer in both cost reduction and capability expansion.

HotLink CTO Oded Haner has identified three major trend lines for virtualization going forward. In the near future, he expects enterprises to ramp up adoption of multiple hypervisors as they seek to optimize virtual environments for particular applications, say, Hyper-V for Exchange and XenServer for desktops. At the same time, virtualization management will gain prowess, partly in response to the growing variety of hypervisors in play. And of course, broad interoperability between platforms, both virtual and cloud, will be in high demand as users seek both flexibility and scalability.

Virtualization will also continue to spur changes in physical infrastructure, according to TechTarget's Mark Vaughn. For instance, the burden that virtual resources place on storage networking could lead many organizations to re-discover local storage for their server farms. DataCore and Fusion-io are already heavily involved in developing shared local storage technology, and the advent of enterprise-class solid-state storage and high-speed interconnects make it appealing on both cost and functionality bases. Even EMC is warming up to the idea with developments like the Project Lightning PCIe card.

And contrary to predictions that virtualization would hamper hardware investment, it seems that the opposite is true. As Baseline showed in a recent survey, virtualization actually helps drive hardware sales because many organizations see the need to optimize underlying infrastructure to suit newly virtualized environments. A case in point is Columbus State University, which saw a need to deploy new HP ProLiant machines within existing BladeSystem enclosures, along with a new StorageWorks SAN, after it had virtualized much of its original infrastructure.

Indeed, once the initial virtual layer has been established, most enterprises need to build up their management and automation capabilities to keep things under control, according to uptime software. In the coming year, the company expects many organizations to shift toward a unified management environment that can coordinate not only deployment, provisioning and automation of virtual resources, but service levels and other operational parameters as well.

Virtualization may have become standard operating procedure at most enterprises, but that doesn't mean the technology has stagnated. As the coming year unfolds, CIOs will find that developing the cloud and other advanced infrastructures will usually start with upgrades to the virtual layer.