As Virtualization Matures, the 'Next Big Thing' Will Be Automation
Virtualization will be the most important technology in IT infrastructures and operations up to 2010, according to Gartner, dramatically changing how IT departments manage, buy, deploy, plan and charge for their services.
Speaking at Gartner’s Infrastructure, Operations and Data Centre Summit in Sydney this morning, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst Thomas Bittman said that virtualization was no longer only about server and storage consolidation and cost saving.
“It is now less about the technology and more about process change and cultural change within organizations,” said Mr Bittman. “Virtualization enables alternative delivery models for services. Each virtualized layer can be managed relatively independently or even owned by someone else, for example, streamed applications or employee-owned PCs. This can require major cultural changes for organizations.”
The total number of virtual machines deployed worldwide is expected to increase from 540,000 at the end of 2006 to more than 4 million by 2009, according to Gartner, but this is still only a fraction of the potential market.
“Several things will make virtualization critical to most enterprises in the next few years: the need to consolidate space, power, installation and integration, and providing server resources which are capable of responding to unpredictable workloads,” Mr Bittman said. “By the end of next year, virtual machine hypervisor technology will be almost free, embedded in servers by hardware manufacturers and in operating systems by software vendors, further accelerating adoption.”
Virtualization is having a considerable impact on the server market worldwide, according to Gartner.
“Every virtual server has the potential to take another physical server off the market,” said Mr Bittman. “Today more than 90 percent of users deploying virtual machines are doing so specifically to reduce x86 server, space and energy costs. We believe that virtualization reduced the x86 server market by 4 percent in 2006, and by 2009 it will have a far greater impact.”
Virtualization on the PC has even more potential than server virtualization to improve the management of IT infrastructure, according to Mr Bittman.
“Virtualization on the client is perhaps two years behind, but it is going to be much bigger. On the PC, it is about isolation and creating a managed environment that the user can’t touch. This will help change the paradigm of desktop computer management in organizations. It will make the trend towards employee-owned notebooks more manageable, flexible and secure.”
In his keynote presentation, Mr Bittman said that the gap between the well managed and the badly managed IT infrastructure is growing. A November 2006 survey of 700 Gartner clients showed that most organizations are in the very early stages of their infrastructure and operations maturity.
“Virtualization without good management is more dangerous than not using virtualization in the first place,” said Mr Bittman. “Automation is the critical next step to help organizations stop ‘virtualization sprawl’, which is not much better than server sprawl.”
Gartner recommends that organizations develop a vision for their own infrastructure and build a plan to get there.
“Nothing beats infrastructure and operations when it comes to the ability to impact IT spending, staffing and business performance. Despite all the talk, IT infrastructure has not become a commodity. As technology vendors battle for control over your IT infrastructure, having a vision of your own will help you stay in control.”
In its second year in Australia, the Gartner Infrastructure, Operations and Data Centre Summit is designed to help IT managers take control over a new set of challenges, through operational transformation, virtualization, disaster recovery, storage and server consolidation, systems management and improved use of power and cooling. Leading Gartner analysts will provide new research insights, case studies and best practice advice. For more information and a full agenda, please visit www.gartner.com/ap/datacentre
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