Virtualization, Cause and Cure for Reduced IT Spending

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Apr 8, 2009


Gartner's latest survey results on IT spending, as reported last week in the Wall St. Journal, predict a decline of 3.8 percent in 2009 (based on U.S. dollars). This exceeds the oft-cited 2.1 percent decline of the 2001 dot-com bust, which up until now has been the benchmark of how low things can go. The latest findings from Gartner and Forrester forecast IT spending to nose dive in 2009. Virtualization is part of the problem, yet it is also expected to drive growth. If HP's latest announcement is any indication, the OEMs are well aware of this double-edged sword.

Forrester Research's revised predictions are no less grim, even if the contraction is a bit less tight. Last week, it too updated its U.S. tech spending outlook. According to the Journal, the research firm now anticipates "purchases of IT goods and services in the U.S. to fall by 3.1 percent in 2009, down from its previous projections calling for growth of 1.6 percent."

The good news, if there is any: Gartner is predicting virtualization will be one of the few bright spots in the eye of the economic storm. Ironically, however, it is also part of the problem. InformationWeek notes that virtualization, "is expected to contribute to the sales drop." More virtual machines mean more muscle from fewer servers, and if the right equipment is on hand, even less hardware needs to be bought.

Virtualization software, however, presents a completely different picture. Although virtualization currently yields only $4 billion in annual sales -- a relatively small segment of the overall tech market -- Gartner forecasts enterprises will spend 33 percent more on it than they did in 2008. It also anticipates sales through 2013 to increase at a compound annual growth rate of about 30 percent.

With this shaping the economic reality for many OEMs, it's not surprising they are expanding their virtual software offerings with increasing intensity. This week, it was HP's turn.

On Wednesday HP announced an upgrade to two applications in its Business Service Automation (BSA) suite of virtualization tools: HP Storage Essentials and HP Operations Orchestration. Automation tools are a critical component of a virtual infrastructure, and HP offers plenty.

New in Storage Essentials are various capabilities to manage VMware virtual machine and storage dependencies. It can now, according to HP, discover interrelationships and dependencies of a VMware server shown on a topological map as well as automatically provision a hypervisor or guest operating system. To help create a more integrated infrastructure, Storage Essentials integrates with Operations Orchestration.

This is a valuable bridge. Storage is becoming an ever-growing issue for virtual infrastructures, as virtualization increases storage needs.

On the Operations Orchestration side of things, out-of-the-box integration with hypervisors from VMware, Citrix and Microsoft has been added. This addition enables admins to automate tasks from these interfaces, and their consoles can now be used to automate tasks regardless of the hypervisor in use.

Integration is a theme throughout the BSA suite. Operations Orchestration integrates with other applications to speed up deployment and build dependencies and relations between the virtual server and physical hardware. BSA Essentials also features a set of subscription services, including templates to deploy a standard virtual system and reporting to note which servers are in or out of compliance with company policies.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is coauthoring a book about virtualization that is scheduled for publication in September 2009.

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