December 28, 2014

Tracking Virtualization Trends

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Virtualization software has been with us for some time now, so long that it’s almost hard to believe. Consider that VMware’s first product, VMware Workstation, shipped nearly 13 years ago, in May 1999. Where does the time go?

But the point of this post isn’t to make everyone feel old. Rather, it’s to assess where virtualization is today and what trends we’re seeing now that the technology is “mature,” as they say. To do that we talked with talked with Phil Magnuszewski, director of data center technologies at Carousel Industries, who quickly rattled off a number of trends he’s seeing with respect to virtualization.

SMBs Latch on to Virtualization

With enterprises long ago having latched on to the virtualization wagon, now the technology is headed downstream to small and medium sized businesses. “We’re seeing folks who traditionally haven’t virtualized going from 0 to 100 miles per hour, from totally physical infrastructure to virtualizing every single application they have,” Magnuszewski says. The same goes for state and local educational institutions, which typically lag technology trends, he says.

Virtualizing Mission Critical Apps

Midmarket and smaller enterprise companies, meanwhile, are largely done virtualizing the low hanging fruit, meaning print servers, DNS servers and such. “Now they’re being cautious but they’re testing with mission critical applications like SAP and high transaction Oracle or SQL databases – applications that are the lifeblood of a company,” he says. “We’re seeing a lot of testing in that space.

Getting a Handle on Virtualization Management

Companies that are well along with virtualization are now dealing with management headaches as their environments get ever larger. And they are getting larger, Magnuszewski says. The same kind of server sprawl that companies saw with their physical servers is happening all over again with virtual servers, and even more so because VMs are so easy to spin up.

“Management of the virtual environment is something we’re really seeing start to take off,” he says. “How do I understand where all my VMs are located, what resources are allocated where, and how do I plan for capacity?” If companies have hundreds or even thousands of VMs running, it’s a challenge to ensure the environment is not only operating properly but is optimized for best performance.

The good news is vendors are starting to address the issue. VMware is pulling together several tools under its vSphere Operations Suite, for example, providing a dashboard that provides a simple view of the performance of the virtual environment. And Carousel is now trialing Hyper-V virtualization products from Microsoft that will be included under the Systems Center management umbrella.

Desktop Virtualization Comes of Age

Virtualization is also poised to (finally) see some traction on the desktop, Magnuszewski says. It’s particularly hot in the education market as vendors are finding ways to bring the up-front cost down (stay tuned for more news on that). But even in commercial markets, “folks who have been talking about it for the last 18 months are moving forward with pilots and rollouts now,” he says. That includes Carousel itself, which has a pilot with about 115 users testing out several use cases, including for corporate personnel, sales people and engineers. “We’re going to end up using it,” he says. “It’s a matter of which use cases make the most sense.”

If you need help making sense of your virtualization strategy, contact Carousel; we’ll be glad to help.

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