by Tony Lock
With virtualization close to the top of every CIO’s to do list, we
undertook the task of finding out how well server, storage and desktop
virtualization is currently understood and where it is being applied,
discovering what is driving adoption and, just as interestingly, what
is holding it back.
The ‘why?’ of virtualization is fully accepted; now it’s about the ‘where?’ and the ‘how?’
When views on the role of virtualization were gathered during a
recent online survey of around 1,500 IT professionals, it was clear
that virtualized infrastructures were generally accepted as a
fundamental component of the modern IT landscape. This confirms that
virtualization is not only ‘fashionable’, but that the potential to
deliver tangible value is widely appreciated. It is time, therefore,
for IT vendors, consultants, analysts and, indeed, those in mainstream
IT departments, to move conversations on from the high level rationale
to specific practicalities.
The center of gravity for mainstream activity is virtualization of x86 platforms
While virtualization in proprietary platform environments is
nothing new, and all areas of IT infrastructure are ultimately a target
for the virtualization approach, the center of gravity for activity
today is currently around x86 servers. With almost 90% of large
organizations participating in this study doing something in this area,
and over half indicating use of virtualized x86 platforms for business
critical applications, there is no doubt at all that this type of
solution is now mainstream. Concerns about robustness and fitness for
purpose are now becoming a thing of the past.
Storage virtualization remains a specialist domain, which may be limiting adoption
The broader IT professional community is much less familiar with
virtualization in the context of storage. This understandable in larger
organizations where storage architecture and management is generally
considered a specialist discipline. Perceived complexity, however,
could be limiting uptake in smaller environments where more generalist
skill sets predominate.
While interest is there, adoption of desktop virtualization is currently behind the curve
The theoretical benefits of desktop virtualization in terms of better
use of hardware and improved manageability appear to be appreciated in
an abstract sense, but few organizations have translated this sentiment
into specific business cases, plans or activity. The prospect of
another wave of Microsoft desktop upgrades in the coming year or two
may be the prompt that changes this.
Suppliers have an important role to play in smoothing the path going forward
While enthusiasm for virtualization is high, there are several
areas in which IT professionals want to see change. Chief amongst these
is a desire for software licensing models to better reflect the
inherent flexibility of virtualized environments. Another common
request is for application and middleware vendors to formally support
virtualized deployments of their solutions, which is not always the
case today. While we wait for vendors to overcome their inertia, it is
still a case of caveat emptor. This will change over time, but we
advise for now that virtualization friendliness is added as standard to
the list of software selection criteria when making purchase decisions.
During the research upon which this report is based, feedback was
gathered from 1459 IT professionals representing a broad cross section
of differently sized organizations in the UK, USA and the rest of the
world. While the study was funded (indirectly) by VMware as part of an
online debate series run by The Register news and analysis site
(www.theregister.com), all work was carried out in accordance with the
independent spirit of community research, with Freeform Dynamics
remaining in control of study design, execution, analysis,
interpretation and reporting.
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