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Server virtualization predictions for 2012

It’s that time of the year. Our advisory board members offer their server virtualization predictions for 2012. (Hint: They mention cloud computing.)

Another year has come and gone. Server virtualization had an eventful year in 2011, but what will 2012 have in store?

Will a virtualization vendor seriously challenge VMware’s market dominance? Will more companies turn to multi-hypervisor infrastructure? Is 2012 the year that cloud computing truly takes off?

Members of our Server Virtualization Advisory Board touched on these issues in their 2012 server virtualization predictions.

What are your server virtualization predictions for 2012?

Maish Saidel-Keesing
NDS Group
In 2012, Microsoft will be a major player in the virtualization market. VMware is several years ahead of Microsoft, but that gap is continually shrinking.

There is no doubt that VMware is the market leader, but Microsoft will do what Microsoft does best: undermine the competition. Microsoft may undercut VMware’s pricing, offer a similar product with more than 70% of vSphere’s features or convince people that while a Rolls Royce is nice, sometimes a Mazda will do just fine.

Also in 2012, multi-hypervisor data centers will become a reality and not a taboo. On the other hand, people will find out that running multiple hypervisors is not a clean-cut process. It’s more than just installing a hypervisor on bare metal. The ramifications of a heterogeneous virtual infrastructure are far-reaching and pose challenges far beyond 2012.

It will be an interesting year!

Christian Mohn
Seatrans AS
VMware will finally get a run for its money in 2012. Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 will become a real threat to VMware’s dominance in the data center -- especially for new server virtualization deployments. Still, I don't think we'll see a huge amount of vSphere customers switching hypervisors.

For the most part, I think Hyper-V’s emergence is bad news for Citrix XenServer, as it's likely the first victim of Microsoft’s hype machine. VMware is hard to attack because of its existing deployment ratio and reputation in the enterprise. But vSphere’s new pricing model may drive some customers to Hyper-V.

VMware has spent a lot of time diversifying its product offerings, and the company doesn’t just rely on the hypervisor to generate revenue. But nearly all of VMware’s other products are based on ESX and ESXi. If that installation base starts to erode, VMware’s other products will suffer, as well.

As such, expect VMware to work even harder at keeping its edge in the hypervisor war. In fact, the next version of vSphere may be the most important release in VMware’s history.

Everyone knows what happened to Netscape and Novell when the Microsoft train started rolling. Microsoft’s “good enough” approach will force VMware to take a good, hard look at its pricing, licensing and feature set. But unlike Netscape and Novell, I’m sure VMware can withstand a full-on attack from Microsoft. Paul Maritz isn’t Marc Andreessen, and Steve Ballmer sure isn’t Bill Gates.

Because of this scenario, we will likely see more multi-hypervisor data centers and a demand for basic management tools that can handle both vSphere and Hyper-V. Most enterprises may not need in-depth management tools for more than one hypervisor.  But more customers will look at top-level administration and reporting tools that provide an overview of a multi-hypervisor data center.

And, of course, we’ll see flying cars in 2012. I promise.

Greg Shields
Concentrated Technologies
All the indicators suggest that 2012 will be Hybrid Cloud Year One.

The hybrid cloud’s approach continues to prove itself as the next evolution of server virtualization. But the IT sector had to overcome some substantial hurdles to get to this point.

This year was all about fear reduction and eliminating the IT pro’s visceral response to offsite virtual machines (VMs). It was about crystalizing the concept and coalescing the cloud’s early, hazy notions around actual things. This year also defined the solution space, shrink-wrapping an approach on paper into products and services.

But 2012 will be about action. IT departments will honestly look into cloud-hosting options for specific VMs and uses. For some, virtual-to-cloud migrations will replace physical-to-virtual migrations as the task of the day. And IT vendors will augment products and enable software to make decisions based on the location of VMs.

Most importantly, IT will evolve. By shedding a tiny bit of control, we’ll be in a better position to meet the needs of our businesses and users. The year of 2012 will indeed be Hybrid Cloud Year One, and the idea is very exciting.

Jack Kaiser
GreenPages Technology Solutions
Here are my virtualization predictions for 2012:

  • Virtualization management and automation tools from the OEMs and third-party vendors will become more robust and necessary, as service-automation and service-management interfaces become essential for a creating a private cloud.
  • Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or end-user computing will be the fastest growing segment of virtualization for several reasons, including Windows 7, Office 2010, BYOPC and mobile devices. The immense business (or knowledge users) acceptance of iPads and other tablet devices will also significantly contribute to VDI and end-user computing’s growth. 
  • The adoption of flash or solid-state drives in VDI and complex virtualization solutions will become increasingly more commonplace, allowing for better IOPS and performance for mission-critical applications.
  • Due to the continued, explosive growth of virtualization, the complexity and executive visibility of virtualization initiatives will significantly intensify.  This will cause problems for companies that do not have the internal expertise to perform these projects in a timely, cost-effective and quality manner. The lack of expertise can also stall ongoing initiatives, or even prevent some companies from even starting a virtualization project.

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