The Trend Skeptic : Virtualization Is a Sure Bet

In other words, what sorts of I/O requirements do applications have? How many instances must you have to consider the architecture fault-tolerant? How easy will you be able to migrate that application if the server crashes?

“It boils down to management,” Jones concluded. “You need good processes. You must follow ITIL because once you shift to a virtual environment, it’s so easy to spin up a server that if you don’t have a process in place for server lifecycle management, server sprawl will overwhelm you.”

Then There’s Legacy

All warnings aside, I’m still all for virtualization, as are nearly all the analysts I spoke with. Virtualization is coming. It’ll be an improvement and it will surely be an enabling technology. However, as with any new technology, deciding when to take the leap is critical. How many of you gadget geeks out there wish you’d waited a few months before you bought that HD DVD player?

When should you take the plunge? According to Jones, it’s not a bad idea to take a wait-and-see approach. “Most people should plan to move to virtualization when they do a hardware upgrade,” he advised.

There’s no need to rush, and waiting could have advantages. Hardware is being designed with virtualization in mind. Software is being architected to not only play well with the virtualization layer but to take advantage of it. And new vendors are flooding into the space.

Today, real-world deployments are synonymous with VMware. However, competitors are entering the fray this year. Microsoft’s Hyper-V is due out in the Fall. Citrix continues to improve its Xen-based suite, and a number of other large vendors, from Sun to Oracle to Novell, all have virtualization products either hitting the market or in the pipeline.

In fact, the very nature of the enterprise IT-vendor relationship could change as virtualization gains traction. “Virtualization will shift the way vendors provide ongoing support for products,” said Matt Healey, senior research analyst at IDC. “Once you can move applications from one server to another, you don’t need a server vendor. What you need is a service provider who can look across platforms to see whether or not your business-critical applications are running in an optimized way.”

Jeff Vance is the president of Sandstorm Media, a writing and marketing services company that focuses on emerging technology trends. If you have ideas for future Trend Skeptic columns, contact him at [email protected] or visit