Virtualization predictions for 2010

by CXOtoday Staff    Aug 13, 2010

Virtualization has helped enterprises deal with economic downturn by allowing them to effectively deal with IT related costs. Year 2010 will witness wider adoption of virtualization as the economies recover. Traditionally, large enterprises and the Fortune listed companies have been the users of virtualization and also the adoption has been slow due to lack of enterprise features, competitive pricing and performance issues. However in 2010, things will change significantly. SMBs will also adopt virtualization as the solution cost plummets due to increased competition. Enterprises applications will be hosted due to enterprise features and improved performance due to hardware advancements.

The entry of Microsoft has increased competition among virtualization vendors, which is again driving the cost down while feature sets increase. ESXi from VMware is available for free and Microsoft Hyper-V comes at a very nominal price. This has led to greater adoption by SMB segment. Besides pricing, a strong attraction for SMBs to move to virtualization is disaster recovery. Using virtualization, disaster recovery which otherwise has been prohibitively expensive using physical infrastructure, has become suddenly affordable.

Enterprises who have adopted virtualization will aim for automating repetitive IT process, to improve manageability, resilience, servers-to-administrator ratio and extract further value from their investments. Those who have not yet done server consolidation will be compelled to go in for consolidation as they struggle with issues of reducing IT budget, escalating cooling and power costs and manageability.

Software R&D and engineering teams will utilize virtualization to reduce development and testing cost, increase productivity, do advanced simulation and automation and reduce time to market. This may in turn enable vendors to slash down prices, be competitive and ultimately pass on benefit to end-users/customers.

Hardware advancements will simplify and help increase penetration of virtualization. I/O Virtualization and direct device access will be focus areas for this year and specific hardware enhancements will remove storage and network bottlenecks. This will allow increased VM (virtual machine) density and better performance. The improvements will enable virtualization of critical workloads without compromising performance. This would enhance utilization and ensure increased RoI (return on investment) for virtualization investments.

Vendors grow along with market
Expect Microsoft to gain further ground in 2010 though their presence will predominantly grow in the SMB space. All the vendors will grow while Citrix, Microsoft and Oracle will also gain market share.

As hypervisor gets commoditized and almost free, hypervisor companies will push further into management tools space bringing pressure on small management tools startups. Startups focusing on virtualization management tools will either be acquired or will have to innovate to address new issues not yet on the radar of big vendors.

Other growth area for hypervisor companies would be cloud infrastructure and tools on top of their hypervisor offering. We also expect some of these vendors to move independently or as a joint venture into providing cloud services even though it may conflict with some of their large customer base. VMForce in a joint venture between VMware and Salesforce is an example.

Shift to cloud computing drives virtualization adoption
Virtualization is the underlying technology and driving force behind most of the clouds. Though cloud will continue to create a buzz, expect restrained adoption in 2010. Small organizations will start using public clouds for cost and flexibility reasons. However, issues of data security and latency will hold enterprises from moving to public cloud infrastructure. Enterprises will instead adopt private cloud solutions to derive the benefits of cloud.

Challenges
The shift to virtualization will not be without challenges. Problems related to VM sprawl will surface and pose biggest challenge to users in terms of compliance and security. Organizations will have to put in policies and audits in place to deal with them initially until there are offerings available from virtualization vendors or third-party. Compliance/licensing, security and VM sprawl are new opportunity areas for innovation for virtualization startups. There will also be an increased thrust to optimize data centers. Towards this, automation will be a priority for most enterprises.

Virtualization takes technology to a new level of complexity. Be it product development or IT deployment services, skills required are highly specialized. This will pose a problem for users, product vendors as a well as system integrators and outsourcers. They will be required to upgrade their skills to be able to manage complexities.

System Integrators (SIs) will see increasing opportunities in cloud enablement as it would require massive integration efforts to deliver truly fluid cloud. OPD service providers with right skills will find increased opportunities in virtualization related tools for management, monitoring, chargeback, security and analytics.

Conclusions
Virtualization adoption will increase multifold in 2010 aided by increased vendor options, reduced cost and increased awareness about benefits it brings. Hardware advancements will provide better VM density and performance driving virtualization of critical workloads. Shift to cloud is inevitable and its infrastructure will ride on virtualization technologies. Increased deployment of virtualization and shift towards cloud will throw open plenty of opportunities for product companies as well as IT service providers. However, to make best of these opportunities, they will have to significantly upgrade their technical know-how to deal with complexities of virtualization.

Jayant Walvekar is the Associate Vice President, Virtualization & Storage at Persistent Systems
Pankaj Khandelwal, Sr. Consultant, Virtualization & Storage domain at Persistent Systems