The server market weakens while niche vendors are on the rise

Don’t be caught out of the loop. Check out what’s going on in the virtualization market and the world of data center design.

The server virtualization market has many facets, as it touches a variety of technologies. This week, we’ve seen reports that the server market is weakening. At the same time, niche virtualization vendors are trying to prove that their products are ready for primetime.

Catch up on some of this week’s virtualization trends, including data center design and market shifts, through quotes from those in-the-know.

“An IT pro looking to virtualize all his servers just because he can is similar a surgeon looking at a medical patient: Surgery may fix the ailment, but there may be better treatments.”
Rob McShinsky, senior systems engineer at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

McShinsky makes a good point: Just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Even though 100% virtualization is now a real possibility for many data centers, the associated costs and licensing issues may outweigh the benefits.

“[The I/O Directors] are really the heart of the network.”
Mike Chase, former dinCloud Chief Technology Officer

Getting down to the heart of the matter: Server and storage virtualization adoption rates have taken off in recent years, but I/O virtualization hasn’t seen the same popularity, despite an ever-present need. Cloud service provider dinCloud built its infrastructure with the help of Xsigo’s I/O Directors. Xsigo is one of a small group of vendors aiming to capitalize on the fact that others have abandoned the technology. Chase said the I/O Directors gave him flexibility in managing and provisioning network resources.

“PCIe is going to be in every chip set and therefore in every server on the planet.”
K.C. Murphy, NextIO CEO

A very modest claim there, don’t you think? As Xsigo capitalizes on the shrinking I/O virtualization market, NextIO Inc. has PCIe virtualization in its crosshairs. While Xsigo’s I/O Directors connect to servers through InfiniBand, Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or 10 GbE ports, NextIO’s V-series product line uses high-speed PCI Express technology to consolidate and share I/O resources at the top of the rack.

“I suspect that Moore's Law, competition, virtualization, and server consolidation have all combined to crunch Unix server revenues and the number of containers and partitions running an instance of Unix has continued to grow. It's hard to say, but this is precisely what happened to IBM mainframes and AS/400s in the wake of their virtualization.”
Timothy Prickett Morgan, The Register

A perfect storm has led to a weakening server market. Faltering economies in Europe, skittish companies in the United States and slowing economies in Asia have contributed to the lackluster first quarter sales seen by Unix, IBM and Intel, as reported by Gartner.  And let’s not forget the (r)evolution of server virtualization technology, which has undoubtedly had an effect as well.

"From a user's perspective, they see a single entity -- their virtual data center -- but have the knowledge that their data is being safely stored in two different geographic locations."
Julian Box, CEO of Calligo

Any business in a geographically difficult location, such as an island, would benefit from cloud services. Making two data centers on different islands operate as one, however, is a challenge to say the least. But that’s just what Calligo, a cloud provider located in the U.K. Channel Islands, is trying to do. A single virtualized data center means data can be retrieved faster from either location. Fortunately for Calligo, Nicira's Network Virtualization Platform is helping them accomplish that goal. John Donne said no man is an island…but I guess a virtual data center can be.

This was first published in June 2012

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