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» VIEW ALL POSTS Dec 19 2007   10:15AM GMT

Thoughts on the ‘top five’ trends in virtualization



Posted by: Ryan Shopp
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I recently received a press release from London-based TechNavio, the creator of a Web-based information and research tool, that outlines the top five virtualization trends. Here they are, along with my own thoughts on these trends:

1. Business process automation.
TechNavio’s take. “Virtualization is expected to speed up the wider movement toward business process automation and remote collaboration. The TechNavio findings appear to indicate that the market in general is expecting a major investment in this area within the next two to three years.”
My thoughts. On the subject of business process automation, if TechNavio means “scripting,” I can agree with this trend. SearchServerVirtualization.com contributor Andrew Kutz has received a few questions from readers about automation, which suggests that there are plenty of other IT pros with similar questions. Also, he increasingly writes tips about scripting for X or Y, often concerning disaster recovery or hot backups. Most recently I’ve seen questions about scripting virtual machines (VMs) to power on and off at a certain time.
Food for thought. If scripting VMs advances, what will happen to the number of system admins and data center managers needed to run a data center? Perhaps all you IT programmers should slow down the scripting process before you script yourself right out of a job!

On the subject of remote collaboration, I definitely agree with TechNavio. I wrote an article on emerging client-side desktop virtualization technologies. In response, I received comments from readers who said that they had found a surprising number of companies that are exploring client-side virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technologies for implementation in 2008. I think it’s due time for VDI; just consider the number of stolen or misplaced laptops, or CDs that went missing in the mail containing personal information. . . .I don’t know about you, but identity theft certainly isn’t on my holiday wish list. And I certainly would appreciate company investment in this kind of technology, considering the increasing mobility of technology.

2. Network-delivered computing.
TechNavio’s take. “Virtualization is also expected to boost the move toward network delivered computing or what is being termed PC-over-IP. This in turn will place vendors such as Cisco, NEC and Sun at the heart of the market, but interestingly leaves the door open for a host of innovative start-ups.” <br>
My thoughts. I would agree here as well. My aforementioned article discusses vThere, which focuses on primarily providing client-side virtual desktops via their own (i.e., third-party) servers that a client notebook would connect to when opening the virtual desktop. During interviews, my subjects all mentioned the trend of software vendors moving to providing their software via virtual machine. We have already seen a few virtualization companies provide beta versions of newer software via VM. As virtualization continues to grow in adoption, I can easily see all kinds of independent software vendors providing their products via virtual machine download.

3. Legacy applications and virtualization.
TechNavio’s take. “As application virtualization speeds up, applications development and maintenance or ADM, vendors have a real opportunity to grow into a new market defined as optimizing legacy applications for virtualization.”
My thoughts. We haven’t focused much on application virtualization on SearchServerVirtualization.com and SearchVMware.com, so I don’t have an informed opinion on this subject. Readers, do you?

4. Small and midsized businesses (SMBs).
TechNavio’s take. “The biggest long-term opportunity for virtualization vendors lies in the SMB space, specifically end-to-end solutions that allow SMBs to outsource and virtualize their entire network.”
My thoughts. I disagree here. Clearly. there is opportunity and space for virtualization in the SMB market, but to say it’s the biggest long-term opportunity? That’s a stretch. I doubt that larger businesses, once virtualized, will stop virtualizing. I think that a more accurate statement would be that virtualization vendors should target SMBs to further extend virtualization.

5. Labor market and skills.
TechNavio’s take. “As the market for server virtualization heats up, finding people with the right skills is set to get harder. With this environment TechNavio predicts that there will be increased opportunities for IT services companies as well as for IT staffing solutions providers.”
My thoughts. I don’t know if I agree that finding people with the right skills will become more difficult; it depends on the IT workers and their drive to stay on top of certifications that prove their worth. (Cough, the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) exam, cough, cough.) And whenever technology advances, desired skill sets change, so this prediction isn’t all that impressive. As far as increased opportunities for IT services companies, yes. It’s easier to go to a business and say, “Get me a sys admin with a VCP stamp of approval!” than it is to shuffle through résumés looking for those who are VCPs. And I definitely think that those who have the right credentials will find themselves in increasing demand: So stay on top of what you’re worth salary-wise given the move toward virtualizing mission-critical servers. Just because your current company doesn’t realize your worth, it doesn’t mean that Company Y — which has more virtualized servers and a greater need for those with virtual environment management experience — doesn’t.

TechNavio’s press release also included a quote after these “top five trends.” Co-founder of Chicago-based Infiniti Research S. Chand (who conducted the research for this report) said, “Currently the biggest beneficiaries of server virtualization are the enterprise users whose businesses tend to be dependent on running compute-heavy, high availability, application intensive data centers. These include: ISPs, hosting and managed service providers, bank’s trading divisions, gaming, online retailers and the like.”

So if you are looking to get the most (read: more money) from your virtualization experience, check job offers with companies that deal with these types of services.

2  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Anil Desai
    It's always fun to make predictions about the future. I'll join in with a few of mine: 1) Desktop Virtualization/VDI deployments remain limited: Like "thin-client" computing before it, the idea of virtualizing entire desktop environments will fail to gain traction. Certainly, companies are doing this now. But, I think the potential drawbacks won't be addressed quickly enough (if ever), and other solutions will help address security and manageability issues. Most importantly, though: What does everyone else think? 2) Other forms of virtualization gain traction: Presentation- and application-level virtualization will become much more common, and IT organizations will find that they have many different ways to address potential management issues. 3) Server Virtualization technology will start to become commoditized: Already, numerous companies provide useful Hypervisors and virtualization layers. It's a cool technology, but many vendors have figured out how to do it. Moving forward, the real challenge will be in managing VM deployments, implementing backups and DR, HA, and dealing with storage issues. The virtualization layer will be considered the "foundation", whereas management tools will receive the focus. 4) Virtualization Knowledge: For most IT people, managing basic virtualization functions will become a standard job function (like performing backups). There's nothing shocking there. As virtual platforms get easier to manage, most organizations will need only a few "experts" (such as those that have the VCP certification) to work on design and troubleshooting. The rest of the IT crowd will adapt on their own. This might not be ideal, but I don't see the VCP certification being as popular as the MCSE c. 1996 - 2000. Some of this might be going against conventional "wisdom" (and aggressive marketing), but these wouldn't be very useful predictions if I stayed with the safe bets. It will certainly be interesting to see how things pan out.
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  • Ryan Shopp
    Tech Navios SMB outsourcing notion, I believe, heads in the right direction but not in the reality - the SMB market is very shy of giving up control of its resources, and outsourcing has never entered their radar, be it either support or virtual networks. A main reason for this is that SMB's use a plethora of software pieces, with very little practical thought given to the ERP (one size fits all) notion of the larger business. Consequently, the desktop support footprint is considerably larger for the SMB. The issue with the Terminal Services (TS) technique was the inability to find all of the myriad software pieces that the SMB invariably buys that work in TS. But desktop virtualization will allow them to bypass this problem, simply because they are now running their mixture of desktop software, still on a (VM) desktop machine. The desktop support is hugely reduced (and yes, a thin client becomes a possibility for some of the users). So once we've seen some simpler, practical and cost-effective DR,HA and Image creation solutions, the SMB's will quickly identify the benefits of VDI.
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