Virtualization, the New Nexus of IT

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Twelve Virtualization Myths Debunked

Global Knowledge takes on some of the most common myths about virtualization.

Virtualization, the modern version at least, is rapidly closing in on 10 years of service to the enterprise, so it's fair to ask not only what has been gained by virtual infrastructure, but what has been lost as well.

On the plus side, the benefits are pretty clear. Streamlined server infrastructure, greater data availability and mobility and that other little thing called the cloud, which wouldn't be worth the bother if not for virtualization.

But as the UK Register's Dale Vile points out this week, virtualization has its drawbacks too. Resource management, for one, is a real bear in the virtual world. Once you enable users and business units to spin up their own servers, it isn't long before you are awash in them. And regardless of who creates them, it's still up to IT to do the patching, monitoring and troubleshooting.

There's also the fact that virtualization in the server farm tends to push a whole lot of data onto the network and storage sides of the house. That means physical resources - the kind you have to spend real money to acquire - are suddenly in need of a major expansion, leaving some organizations to wonder if higher server utilization is truly the cost-saving exercise it was made out to be.

This is part of the reason why virtualization has found such champions in firms like VMware and Cisco. True, as VMware CTO Steve Herrod pointed out this week, virtualization has proven to be highly flexible across all manner of business processes and applications. But it is also quite the little driver for increased storage deployments, which has been highly beneficial to VMware's parent company, EMC.

Much of the flexibility we attribute to virtual infrastructure is derived from its ability to separate data and applications from underlying hardware. This has further fueled the commoditization of most hardware platforms and has largely done away with the OS wars that characterized much of IT development for the previous two decades. Of course, in its place we have hypervisor wars pitting VMware against Microsoft, Citrix, Red Hat, Oracle and others, so the more things change the more they stay the same.

But it doesn't seem that virtualization is quite through remaking the enterprise just yet. ZDNet's Ken Hess paints a picture of another major paradigm shift in enterprise computing that has the OS falling away in favor of the hypervisor. Windows vServer 2015 and App Server 2015 could be prime examples, he says, if Microsoft plays its cards right. With the expected Roles function allowing users to spin up all manner of systems like Remote Desktop Server, SharePoint Server and Active Directory Server, applications and services are streamed to the desktop as workloads. The end result is greater agility and a smoother transition to cloud computing because the OS is no longer needed to support application environments.

At the same time, virtualization sits at the crossroads of just about all the major developments taking place in data infrastructure these days. Whether it's consumerization, self-service cloud deployment or mobile computing, virtualization is the linchpin between all this new stuff and the legacy infrastructure that enterprises are still dependent upon to get the work done.