Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Postcards from IDC’s Virtualization Forum 2.0

I just attended the IDC analyst conference yesterday in New York. In some sense, the big news was simply how pervasive virtualization is becoming, and how many different technology sources there are. And most interesting, there was lots of talk about *managing* virtualization, not just using it for consolidation.

John Humphreys (Enterprise Computing) opened with some riveting statistics:

  • 62% of VM users are looking for a “unified tool”
  • 45% of servers planned for installation next year will be virtualized
  • 23% is the average savings being reaped from HW, power and facilities
  • 70% of IT costs still reside in operations... not in hardware or software.

In addition, he had the foresight to refer to VMs as “the new atomic unit of management.” Hmmm. Right up Cassatt’s alley.

Finally, under “challenges”, one of the big bullets was “How can you consolidate/manage across the DMZ?”... which I found interesting. True, it’s a growing issue, but frankly, with automated network configuration, Collage already manages virtual (and physical) resources across a number of virtual networks.

We also spoke 1:1 with analysts Matt Eastwood (VP, Enterprise platforms), Michelle Bailey (Datacenter Trends), and Al Gillen (VP, system software). Overall, they confirmed the themes that Virtualization is pervasive, and the challenges were becoming how to manage this new technology. Topics of note:

  • Managing across networks (as above)
  • Parameterized & “mass-produced” provisioning of VMs
  • Managing a virtual enterprise across geographies
  • Justifying economics beyond hardware savings

Besides the better-known technologies (i.e. VMware and Xen) there were also some interesting virtualization options:

  • Trigence: which has an interesting “encapsulation” technology; they don’t use a hypervisor, per se, but rather encapsulate an application, plus all relevant files/libraries, etc. so it’s completely portable
  • SWsoft: which has a unique virtualization approach which, if you only care about one OS, gives you high performance and a huge degree of consolidation
  • HP and IBM: both hyping their versions of self-managing blade systems.
  • IBM has also announced their Secure Hypervisor (sHype) product, that may be incorporated into 3rd-party hypervisors.

From a purely selfish perspective, Cassatt is pretty well-positioned to help manage/automate an upcoming need: as the Virtualization market matures, more datacenters will need a vendor-neutral way of managing across virtual and physical domains, pooling resources, and guaranteeing service levels.

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