Felt virtually everywhere

In a special report, global analyst firm Gartner examines how virtualisation is set to rewrite the rules of IT management, deployment, planning and purchasing.

  • E-Mail
By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  May 5, 2008

In a special report, global analyst firm Gartner examines how virtualisation is set to rewrite the rules of IT management, deployment, planning and purchasing.

Virtualisation will be the highest-impact trend changing infrastructure and operations through 2012, according to Gartner. Virtualisation will transform how IT is managed, what is bought, how it is deployed, how companies plan and how they are charged.

As a result, virtualisation is creating a new wave of competition among infrastructure vendors that will result in considerable market disruption and consolidation over the next few years.

"Virtualisation is hardly a new concept; storage has already been virtualised - albeit primarily within the scope of individual vendor architectures - and networking is also virtualised," said Philip Dawson, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

Although application virtualisation is gaining considerable interest, Gartner maintains that it is machine virtualisation that will have a more long-term impact.

However, as both server and PC virtualisation become more pervasive, traditional IT infrastructure orthodoxy is being challenged and is changing the way business works with IT.

According to Gartner, the leading edge of this change is server virtualisation, which promises to unlock much of the underutilised capacity of existing server architectures. Server virtualisation is already having an impact on the server market.

Gartner believes that virtualisation reduced the x86 server market by 4% in 2006. As hypervisor prices drop and management costs decrease with increased competition, virtualisation will have a significantly larger impact, and Gartner predicts that more than 4 million virtual machines will be installed on x86 servers by 2009.

The use of PC virtualisation is also set to increase rapidly. The number of virtualised PCs is expected to grow from less than 5 million in 2007 to 660 million by 2011.

On the PC, the decoupling technology that breaks the close ties and dependencies between hardware and software occurs at two levels: between hardware and the operating system (machine virtualisation) and between the operating system and applications (application virtualisation).

Although application virtualisation is gaining considerable interest, Gartner maintains that it is machine virtualisation that will have a more-long-term impact, making personal computing more flexible and secure by allowing multiple individual footprints to be defined on the same device.

"Essentially, virtualisation creates a fork in the road for operating systems," said Thomas Bittman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

"Traditionally the operating system has been the centre of gravity for client and server computing, but new technologies, new modes of computing, and infrastructure virtualisation and automation are changing the architecture and role of the operating system."

According to Gartner, infrastructure vendors that have always competed on a best-of breed basis must alter their approach. In the future, the virtualisation of infrastructure will be managed by policies at a business-service level, requiring all parts of the infrastructure to work in harmony. This concerns some vendors, which believe a smooth-running and standardised infrastructure could commoditise their component parts.

"This competition will play itself out in the market and in users' infrastructure, and it will be messy," said Dawson. "Eventually a few dominant infrastructure control architectures will emerge, and in those architectures, vendors will solidify a span on control in a hierarchy of governance."

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code