Server virtualization trends and predictions to watch for in 2013

We're at the end of another year, and our experts are polishing their crystal balls to tell you what server virtualization trends to expect in 2013.

For server virtualization, 2012 was a busy year. Both VMware and Microsoft unveiled big product releases with exciting new features -- along with a few fresh buzzwords. Many are saying the gap between the two heavy-hitters is closing. What will that increased competition mean for IT pros and what server virtualization trends will emerge in 2013? Find out what our industry experts think we'll see in the coming year.

Christian Mohn, EVRY Consulting

First of all, I'd like to have a quick look at my predictions for last year's virtualization trends. At least I think I got one thing right, namely that VMware would tackle the release of Microsoft's Hyper-V 3.0 head on with both licensing and feature changes to their own products. VRAM is gone, and VMware is including more products and features in the various license tiers they offer. 

For 2013, unless the world ends on Dec. 21, 2012, as far as server virtualization in the data center goes, Microsoft and VMware will continue to battle it out, to the benefit of both new and existing customers. Real competition fosters innovation, something that benefits everyone in the long run. But it also introduces more complexity and even more management layers while organizations try to find the right balance of price versus features and stability. These virtualization trends also pave the way for a tiered hypervisor model, where customers can migrate workloads between multiple local hypervisors and external cloud services. This might be a long shot for 2013, but I'm pretty confident that's the way we are heading.

The latest edition to the buzzword bingo sheet is the software-defined data center, and as virtualization moves beyond compute and storage into networking and security, I expect that we'll see an emergence of new capabilities and even a slew of new startups playing the field. If you look what happened in the storage space as new players started offering virtualization-specific flash storage, I think it's a fair bet that something similar will happen in the software-defined everything space.

And, of course, 2013 will be the year of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) -- or flying cars -- again. We have to get this right eventually, don't we?

Jason Helmick, Interface Technical Training

Last year's predictions on virtualization trends proved to be very accurate and still hold water for 2013.  IT is evolving, and the cloud conversation has become less taboo at the water cooler. The discussions have shifted -- and will continue to shift -- from "what is cloud" to "when will we use the cloud." 

Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet in front of the highly respected VMware and is making progress on several fronts.
Jason Helmick

Microsoft has thrown down the gauntlet in front of the highly respected VMware and is making progress on several fronts. Small companies are turning to Office 365 like moths to a flame. Larger companies have seen Hyper-V creeping into their private and hybrid virtualization projects, at first for the less critical services, then growing much the same way Windows NT grew inside of Novell NetWare shops. As IT pros gain confidence in Hyper-V 3.0, expect more projects to incorporate System Center 2012 and Virtualization Machine Manager. This year, watch for Microsoft to push Server Core 2012 as the ultimate virtualization operating system to provide many of the services that businesses need.

This isn’t to say that 2013 will be a bad year for VMware, considered by many as the most trusted name for virtualization. VMware will continue to grow, benefiting from the IT industry's move to virtualization and cloud technologies. The competition between these two giants will mean better solutions beginning with initial architecture planning to daily in-the-trenches management. These benefits will reduce the complexity and cost of ownership that, in turn, will open these products to a broader base of customers and IT pros (who should focus on becoming well-versed in managing both products) -- PowerShell manages both Microsoft and VMware and adoption will soar in 2013.

The combination of better products from strong competitors along with the increased awareness and knowledge of IT pros is sure to make 2013 a big year for virtualization projects.

Now, if only someone can predict when I can get more Twinkies.

Maish Saidel-Keesing, NDS Group Ltd.

Looking at the crystal ball and predicting what virtualization trends will be is a decent amount of guess work, but mostly based on a gut feeling.

So what do I think 2013 will hold in store for us?

  • It will not be the year of VDI (I actually wonder if it will ever be). 
  • Heterogeneous clouds will become more common (and of course multiple hypervisors as well) -- and the ecosphere will continue to evolve (as it has in 2012) to add support for multiple platforms and vendors.
  • We will see even more convergence of the major players in the storage and network stack.
  • Cisco Systems Inc. will make a move into the storage market by acquiring a storage vendor.
  • Amazon and VMware will become direct competitors. The market share of the public cloud to the end-user customer is something VMware cannot afford to leave untouched.
  • Device-agnostic applications will become more common. VMware will again lead the market.
  • Windows 8 will not be the success that Microsoft hopes it will be. Neither will the Surface.

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