5 Ways Virtualization Will Change in 2010

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Dec 16, 2009

As 2009 draws to a close, bringing an end to the decade with it, it's time to give some thought to the coming year and decade. Here are 5 predictions of what's in store for virtualization in the coming year. Some are major and obvious; others may seem less significant, but they bring with them underlying change.

Virtually Speaking: Virtualization isn't the new kid on the block anymore, but big changes are in store in the new year.

All are subjective. Feel free to weigh in below about what you think will have the biggest impact on virtualization in the new year and beyond.

1. Virtualization moves down market, becomes more grizzled

Recent studies from Gartner and IDC found that the rate at which enterprises are adopting virtualization slowed year over year in 2009. While virtualization remained a bright spot in a troubled worldwide economy, the rate of growth declined. To some degree, this is attributable to what was being measured: new servers purchased for virtualizing. With hardware purchases down across the board, this is a logical transpiration.

In reality, the virtual pie remains largely unsliced, and SMBs are getting into the act more than ever before. Expect more of that in 2010, along with solutions that are simple to deploy and manage aimed at SMBs.

There is already a perception that virtualization is mature. Whether or not this is true is arguable, but cloud computing appears to have taken vitalization's seat on the Cool! New! Technology Bench.

2. Hypervisor Landscape to Change

Expect change on two fronts: On one side increased commoditization, which has been well under way, for some time. Everybody likes to throw shots at VMware, but the competition has yet to dethrone it. Expect Microsoft to up the ante in 2010. Prices will likely be slashed even more than they were in 2009. Also expect to hear much more from Red Hat about KVM as well as an uptick in the user base.

At the other extreme, niche hypervisors will take hold. While they may not command the market share that Hyper-V aspires to or VMware has, they will be critical to some organizations. In July, IBM released version 7 of its POWER processor. As part of the refresh, the PowerVM hypervisor was souped up. Oracle, meanwhile, swallowed Virtual Iron back in May, digested the technology and spit up the rest. While VirtualBox's potential fate seems a bit more positive, when Oracle's acquisition of Sun goes through, nothing is ever certain.

3. Management tools

In an up economy, small privately held companies go public to raise money. In a down economy, big companies go shopping and are able to buy the functionality. This week, Microsoft announced plans to purchase Opalis. Be on the lookout for more in 2010.

4. Security

None of the virtualization software out there has been without vulnerabilities and other weaknesses, and there have been ample security breaches this year. Yet there hasn't been a significant virtualization-related breach. With cloud deployments on the increase, expect this to change. Depending on the severity of the breach, it will likely impact the public cloud's future in the enterprise.

5. Enterprises Will Take a Closer look at the Business Impact of Virtualization

Up until now, enterprises have primarily focused on the technological impact that virtualization will have. As virtualization moves beyond the data center into the various lines of business, the technology itself will becomes less important than how it impacts various departments and enterprises will shift their focus from the technical impact of virtualization to the business impact.

Accounting, for example, generally doesn't care where the general ledger sits, so long as staff members can access it. But if the server is inaccessible, or data takes a long time to load, it will matter. Lines of business also cares how it is charged for resources used. Buying a new server is an easily charged back expense — as is billing for usage of that server. But what about when four different departments are using that server, and they are using varying amounts of compute power? Such issues will come into play and will need to be figured out as more enterprises virtualize more of their infrastructure.

This is the most intangible item on the list, but it may turn out to have the most significant impact over time.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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