Top 10 Virtualization Trends

Updated: May 14, 2009

Over the past few years Virtualization has exploded into a major IT force. The field is evolving rapidly, taking advantage of new technologies, methodologies and business practices that will help it meet the needs of current and potential adopters.

Virtualization is on the move, but just where is it headed? The following top trends provide a basic roadmap:

1. More adopters. The economic crisis and a need to "do more with less" are driving more businesses toward virtualization. As adoption increases, enthusiastic supporters generate buzz about the technology, which drives even more people toward it. A strong virtualization market benefits everyone by spurring innovation and making the technology more powerful and easier to use.

2. Virtualization goes green. Virtualization promotes green IT by significantly cutting energy costs. Thanks to the need for fewer physical servers, the power required to maintain the datacenter shrinks. Government and community pressure on businesses to launch green initiatives is a major reason why virtualization is becoming so popular.

3. Adopters demand better security. The technologies currently used to protect physical servers from attacks can't be extended to virtualized environments. Virtualization vendors need to bolster their technologies to address threats in several areas, including software, administration, mobility, the operating system and network visibility. Vendors are moving fast to plug existing holes and install secure safeguards, but not quickly enough for some observers.

4. Desktops get virtualized. With so many servers already virtualized or on the road to virtualization, many businesses are now looking toward desktops as the next resource that could benefit from a dose of virtual technology. By running a complete desktop environment in a protected "bubble" on the user's PC, or by hosting users' desktops in the datacenter, desktop virtualization promises to save businesses the large amounts of money spent on individual desktop refreshes. The technology also gives end users the ability to conveniently access their desktops from multiple locations on multiple devices. Because of this, desktop virtualization can also give businesses enhanced security, manageability and flexibility.

5. Market expansion. With virtualization proving itself as a valid and valuable approach, a growing number of vendors are piling into the market. This is both good and bad news. The bright side is that the rising number of market players is generating more product and service choices while simultaneously driving down prices. The flip side is that the market may be approaching a saturation point. While vendor consolidation may be in the wings, a sudden market collapse might also occur, leaving some virtualization customers in the lurch.

6. Cloud computing rolls forward. Many people view cloud computing as virtualization's next big step forward, particularly for businesses that require massive scalability. Cloud computing still has some weaknesses, particularly in security, but the prospect of being able to easily and dynamically tap into the resources of a remote, third-party infrastructure will likely prove irresistible to many businesses.

7. Storage virtualization gains traction. Storage virtualization makes multiple physical drives look like one big storage pool. As businesses struggle to utilize their stretched-thin conventional storage resources, storage virtualization is becoming an increasingly attractive technology.

8. Virtualization gains mainstream acceptance. Virtualization is no longer an obscure, offbeat technology. With the approach now widely promoted and discussed, the technology and it's benefits are no longer hidden, making it easier for IT managers to propose virtualization projects and get buy-in from management.

9. Adopters demand better management tools.
In many respects, virtualization is only as good as its management infrastructure. Cost savings and other benefits are all greatly diminished when a virtualized environment falters due to poor control and oversight. Vendors are beginning realize this fact and are now rushing new management tools to market. For many adopters the new tools can't arrive soon enough.

10. Virtualization gets easier. Perhaps the most welcome trend is that virtualization is becoming easier to plan, deploy and maintain. As the technology matures, the knowledgebase grows, and larger, more market-savvy vendors move into the field, the technology is becoming less intimidating to new adopters and more manageable for all users.

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