COMDEXvirtual: Virtualization Not Just For Servers Anymore

Barb Goldworm, president and chief analyst at Focus, a market research firm in Boulder, Colo., in a session at COMDEXvirtual spoke of a technology so fertile that it promises to yield bumper crops for years to come.

The session, dubbed "Trends In Virtualiztion" took place at COMDEXvirtual, the online conference hosted by CRN parent company Everything Channel. The show takes place November 16 - 17, and sessions are available on-demand until May 17, 2011.

According to Goldworm, the industry this year has seen a significant increase all areas virtualization, but particularly in server deployments. "Almost everyone has done something in a server virtualization, either in production or final planning stages," she said. For example, Focus research shows that 42 percent of respondents are either virtualizing applications currently or are engaged in proof of concept. "That's up from 20 percent last year," she said, adding that many are also further along in production than planning phase over last year.

Up even more sharply is storage virtualization, which has shown a 50 percent increase in production, up from 30 percent a year ago. And overall, 75 percent of respondents are planning to do virtualization across all of these areas, she said. "It's not just servers anymore;lots of people moving forward in desktop and storage virtualization."

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And if you think about it, the reasons for these gains make perfect sense. Unlike technologies that are long on potential and short on benefit, virtualization has made good, she said. "It's one of those technologies that has delivered on its promise. All the hype we've heard in the early days is true -- the benefits it delivered are the benefits it has promised." Such benefits include increased resource utilization, reduction of physical space and the need for storage and cooling, increased ROI and a "significant reduction in total cost of ownership while delivering IT agility and improving disaster recovery."

Even for companies that might never want to have a majority of their servers virtualized, the technology offers the benefits of consolidation, resource maximization and agility, Goldworm said, while offering new benefits still being realized. "What's interesting this year is that virtualization drivers have changed. This year disaster recovery has overtaken consolidation and utilization as the No. 1 driver, and server virtualization has moved down."

That's good news for resellers targeting small, budget-conscious companies because, while the primary site of course might host a physical server, a redundant site doesn't have to. "Physical redundancy is expensive," she said. "And virtualization allows them to have a disaster recovery plan without replicating all that hardware. It dramatically reduces the cost and gives many SMB shops a disaster recovery plan for the first time."

And by invoking hosts in a cluster, the technology also can help increase availability of the primary site or keep one node live while rolling upgrades are performed on the other.

The news isn't all good. For resellers and companies implementing virtualization solutions, backup and storage issues are still significant pain points, said Goldworm. But today the main issue is performance, which Goldworm believes is a natural progression. "Users are moving further along past 30 percent virtualization and into more mission-critical apps, where performance becomes a bigger issue." Also higher on the pain list is security.

"Again, we think that ties directly to the increase in mission-critical applications being run. And as virtualization has become more mainstream and more people understand it, it becomes a bigger target," particularly in public clouds, she said.

Register now to attend COMDEXvirtual or to access on-demand sessions.