HERE, THERE AND — YES — EVERY WHERE, virtualization is headed toward ubiquity. “We’re almost to the point where we don’t even have to say virtualization or describe ar- chitectures as using virtualization, because
it’s becoming an implied part of technology,” says Chris
Wolf, a Gartner Inc. analyst.
Indeed, virtualization already is well on its way to dominating the server realm and is edging onto the desktop. In
no time at all, virtualization’s reach will expand across the
application landscape, hit the mobile arena and land in the
data tier. Here’s a closer look at its journey across the IT
Across the Application Tier
If virtualization is headed one place in
2011, it’s upstream, toward mission-critical applications, says James Staten,
an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
“We’re starting to get to this point
where organizations stop saying,
‘Well, we’ll never virtualize those
applications, but all these we will,’
Arun Taneja, founder of IT analyst firm Taneja Group,
“We’re close to breaking all the relevant barriers so that
mission-critical applications can be brought under the
virtualization umbrella,” he says.
Over the past 18 months, the industry has come a long
way in addressing the major pain points: I/O and storage,
For example, start-ups like NextIO, Virtensys and
Xsigo Systems offer products capable of virtualizing,
or aggregating, interconnections across high-capacity
InfiniBand or Ethernet links. They help give IT managers
control over I/O by enabling them to set policies designating how much I/O a particular virtual machine requires
and then divvy up the remaining portion among VMs on
a percentage basis.
“Essentially, these products bring [quality of service]
into I/O, and they provide a huge industry-forward movement,” Taneja says.
Likewise, storage virtualization products from companies such as 3Par (acquired by Hewlett-Packard in September 2010 after a bidding war with Dell), Compellent
(which in December agreed to be acquired by Dell) and
even Net App work far better within a virtualized environment than do traditional storage wares, he adds. He points
to “wide striping” as one technique that makes bringing
mission-critical applications into the virtual environment
feasible. Wide striping helps eliminate storage bottlenecks
because the technology distributes the I/O loads across all
disks rather than forcing IT managers to group disks and
specify which applications are served by each group —
even if disks are idle elsewhere in the array.
“That’s the power of virtualization, and the lesson we’ve
learned as an industry over the last three years. When
you go into a virtual server world, you can’t have old-style
storage,” Taneja says.
Moving virtualization up the stack toward mission-critical
status is also about application portability, Staten adds.
“With server virtualization, organizations can build a
server image really quickly, give it its own machine, move
it from machine to machine, clone it, duplicate it and
so on. Now they want the same thing with applications
— they want to bare-metal build an image, bare-metal
deploy, bare-metal pick it up and move it somewhere else,
and bare-metal clone and life-cycle-manage it,” he says.
This idea of application virtualization is actually about
a half-dozen years old, but many IT organizations are
only now really getting into the technology, Wolf says.
“Those looking to standardize on a version of application
virtualization or an application virtualization platform
have wanted to see the market mature a bit before making
a strategic commitment,” Staten explains.
And mature it has, with application virtualization
options now available from a growing list of companies, including Citrix, Microsoft, Novell, Symantec and VMware.
We’re close to breaking all the
relevant barriers so that mission-critical applications can be brought
under the virtualization umbrella.
ARUN TANEJA, ANALYST, TANEJA GROUP
Also, with the May 2010 release of Office 2010, Microsoft
for the first time gave its official nod to using virtualization in deploying any of its applications.
“If Microsoft is just starting to add support for application virtualization, then you can figure that most vendors
in the Microsoft ecosystem are a bit further behind. So
support has been one of the barriers to the technology’s
use in the enterprise,” Wolf says.
VMware, which offers Thin App for application virtualization, sees the technology’s growing importance
as the architecture of the desktop and user interaction
splits apart. Increasingly, devices will be on one end, with
the computing support for applications and the applications themselves pushed into the data center — and into
software-as-a-service setups in the cloud, says Vittorio
Viarengo, vice president of end user computing products
“This has implications on how we deliver data and applications over time. We need to increasingly move legacy
applications that aren’t going away into the data center
and display them to devices,” he says. “That’s one use of
application virtualization — these applications will either