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Virtualization ain't goin' out like that

It seems like every virtualization insider I talk to these days — vendor, analyst, admin, you name it — says the same thing.

“The hypervisor is commoditized.” “The cloud is the future.” “I’m on a horse.”

OK, they don’t say that last one (even though it’s hilarious). But they do make those first two comments a lot. And as the editor of a virtualization site, I was starting to find it disconcerting.

“But virtualization’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!” I’d think. “What about the clear ROI for virtualization projects? And all the other benefits of virtualization? How can you commoditize that? How can that not be the future? How many more rhetorical questions can I ask myself?”

Last week I attended the IDC Directions conference in Boston, which allayed most of my fears. It apparently is true that they hypervisor is commoditized and that cloud computing is the future. But virtualization, in the words of Cypress Hill, ain’t goin’ out like that.

Turns out that virtualization will continue to grow. And all that talk you hear about cloud computing? That’s just a new way to squeeze even more juice out of the fruit of virtualization.

“Virtualization has really become the foundation of the future data center,” said Michelle Bailey, IDC’s research vice president for data center trends and enterprise platforms.

Phew. What a relief!

The numbers that Bailey shared during her presentation, “Three Data Centers: One Vision?” were also very comforting:

  • 51% of all workloads will be virtualized by the end of 2010, and 69% will be by 2013.
  • Just 2.1% of all physical servers were virtualized in 2005, but that number rose to 12.8% last year and will reach 22.3% in 2013.
  • VM density ratios will increase from 6:1 in 2009 to 8.4:1 in 2013.
  • There will be 56 million VMs by 2012.

The private or internal cloud computing model seems to be the way most advanced, virtualized organizations will go first. With a private cloud, your data center becomes like a service provider that hosts and delivers applications and resources to users as needed. And of course, virtualization makes that all possible.

The public or external cloud — where you rely on an outside service provider to do that all for you — marks a much bigger shift and is further off on the horizon. As IDC’s Gary Chen, research manager for enterprise virtualization software, told me, “A private cloud is much less threatening as an IT model.”

But even when public cloud computing really takes off, virtualization will still be the foundation. So the next time you hear something like, “VMware wants to come out of 2010 not being known as a virtualization company, but as a cloud company,” as Chen told me, you can take solace in the fact that virtualization will still be a big part of that.

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Colin, we also see a lot of clients who are accelerating virtualization to establish the foundation for a private cloud. Many are accelerating their physical-to-virtual server conversions as a consequence. While this can generate impressive consolidation benefits, to really get ongoing operational savings, you also have to optimize and automate management and operational processes for virtualization. This means not only day-to-day operations such as provisioning, but also data protection, security, and management dashboards.
Colin, Thank you for those interesting statistics. These are quite plausible, but they do not signify the commoditization of the hypervisor or virtualization. We have many enterprise customers who have tried virtualization solutions from multiple vendors, and they have observed huge differences in performance, scalability -- and ease of use. Having previously worked for one of the major database vendors, I can tell you we were delighted to hear our competitors say that DBMS had become a commodity. We knew customers were still looking for advanced features, improved performance and better support; and were glad to know our competitors weren't aggressively pursuing these. Best regards, Reed Emanuel Technical Support Manager Bogus Technologies, Inc. 560 S. WInchester Blvd. San Jose, CA 95128 (408) 259-2442 [A href=""]