Now that we've been back from the holidays for a month, I'd like to round out the 2013 predictions season with a look at the year ahead in server virtualization. If you're like me (or this New York Times columnist), you'll agree that a little procrastination can sometimes be a good thing to help collect and organize your plans for the year ahead. (Did you buy that rationalization?)
We're now more than a decade into the era of widespread x86 server virtualization. Hypervisors are certainly a mature (if not peaceful) technology category, and the consolidation benefits of virtualization are now uncontestable. 77% of you will be using virtualization by the end of this year, and you're running as many as 6 out of 10 workloads in virtual machines. With such strong penetration, what's left? In our view: plenty. It's time to ask your virtual infrastructure, "What have you done for me lately?"
With that question in mind, I asked my colleagues on the I&O team to help me predict what the year ahead will hold. Here are the trends in 2013 you should track closely:
1. Consolidation savings won't be enough to justify further virtualization. For most I&O pros, the easy workloads are already virtualized. Looking ahead at 2013, what's left are the complex business-critical applications the business can't run without (high-performance databases, ERP, and collaboration top the list). You won't virtualize these to save on hardware; you'll do it to make them mobile, so they can be moved, protected, and duplicated easily. You'll have to explain how virtualizing these apps will make them faster, safer, and more reliable-then prove it.
2. Your virtual environment will have to be dynamic or you're throwing money away. Are your VMs mobile today, or is your virtual environment basically static? If you're not taking advantage of hypervisor resource management to automate VM placement and optimize host utilization and performance, you should be. Do you regularly check consolidation ratios or right-size your VMs? If not, you're not getting the most value for your virtualization dollar. The tools are there and you probably own some of them. In 2013, you should start to trust them.
3. Resiliency and disaster recovery will drive most new virtualization projects. According to the latest Forrsights surveys, improving business continuity and disaster recovery now tops the list of customer motivations for adopting virtualization. There's already a healthy and vibrant market for backup, recovery, snapshot, replication and archive technologies designed for VM files and data. This year we'll see more I&O pros take advantage of data protection and DR tools designed for and integrated directly into their virtualization management tools. Virtualization ROI will increasingly be driven by improvements in infrastructure resiliency.
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