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The Future of Virtualization: Six Predictions

The virtualization industry has seen its fair share of change in the past year or so


The virtualization industry has seen its fair share of change in the past year or so, with Microsoft releasing its long-awaited Hyper-V and VMware taking on new leadership and potentially a new direction. The action is set to continue in 2009, with further developments and trends emerging to shape the impact of the impact of the technology.

Here are six predictions for the coming year:

Prediction #1: The sky’s the limit for Cloud Computing

The vendor landscape will dramatically change as we see a significant increase in the opportunities available to providers of cloud-based services. This will impact all types of service providers: web and managed hosters; telcos and ISPs; independent software vendors offering their software as a service; online services companies; traditional systems integrators; value-added resellers that are becoming managed service providers, and cost-plus service providers. A full range of offerings must be available.  These will largely run on Linux as it is much more prevalent in this space.

For the cloud model to be profitable, efficiency is key, so service providers need to automate as much of the full lifecycle as possible. Customers should be able to place orders and get fulfilment and basic support without human intervention, and all billing and usage accounting needs to be completed automatically. Delegating authority to the customer also plays a significant role in making this model work – the customer should be able to perform simple administrator tasks such as resetting passwords and ordering more disk space without needing costly support calls or input from service provider staff.

Prediction #2: VMware becomes the new operating system choice

In the longer term, as the virtualization market matures, VMware will be positioned as an OS vendor and may release more general OS APIs. This will up the stakes in the competition with Microsoft, who will likely respond by directing more of its resources to competing with VMware.  This is likely to significantly damage VMware’s position, which customers may want to bear in mind when considering a move to the VMware platform.

Prediction #3: In contrast, the third big name in the virtualization industry, Citrix, is likely to remain an infrastructure software vendor, continuing to focus on supporting Microsoft. This will lead the company to reduce its emphasis on the Xen hypervisor or drop it altogether in favor of Hyper-V.

Prediction #4: Automation re-shapes the hypervisor competition

The battle between hypervisor vendors is currently being fought around core performance and base features.  This will not be settled as quickly as many are predicting; and before it is, the crux of the competition will shift to integrated automation.  This technology will become increasingly important due to the complexity associated with the management of virtualized infrastructures.  It will need to able to automate more than just the virtual aspects of the IT environment though and it is important that hypervisor vendors recognize that without automation, virtualized infrastructures will be unserviceable.

Prediction #5: Desktop virtualization adoption becomes widespread

Be it on the client or server side, virtualization on the desktop is currently only used in limited niche scenarios: testing and development, demonstrations, running Windows on Macs, and VDI for call centers.  This will gradually change as understanding of the relevance and potential benefits of the technology increases.  A range of uses will find traction with the mainstream market, for example: streaming desktops and desktop mobility, or improving desktop manageability.

Prediction #6: Hyper-V take adoption is slow

It will take much longer than has been widely speculated for Hyper-V to achieve significant production adoption.  Organizations will not really start to run large numbers of Hyper-V-based VMs in production until Microsoft addresses major issues such as the lack of core features, incomplete tools, the perception that Hyper-V is only for Windows and that Windows is not solid, and the lack of clear differentiation for the product.  VMware will also play a part in slowing the adoption of Hyper-V through aggressive marketing and sales.  This does not mean that widespread adoption of the technology will not happen eventually though – Microsoft is persistent.

Final Remarks: The Bigger Picture

There will be a general shift in the market as enterprises become disillusioned about the additional costs and complexities introduced alongside the benefits of virtualization implementations.  As understanding of the technology and options increases, businesses will start looking for very specific solutions to their very specific problems, carefully examining where they will see real return on investment and evaluating the true total costs of ownership.  Virtualization technology itself is still developing though, and the areas of potential application are expanding, with opportunities for virtualizing mobile phones and other such devices currently in the exploratory stage.

[This appeared originally here and is republished in full by kind permission of the author and of David Marshall, of VMBlog.com.]

More Stories By Serguei Beloussov

Serguei Beloussov is Chairman and CEO at Parallels, a global leader in virtualization and automation software for consumers, businesses and service providers. He's a successful self-made entrepreneur and business executive with an outstanding 15-year track record in building, growing and leading high-performing, multi-national high tech companies in North America, Europe and Asia. Since 2003, under Beloussov’s leadership, Parallels has quickly grown to profitability and #1 market positions with its innovative desktop virtualization, OS containers and control panel product lines. He is also a Founder and major investor in Acronis, a global leader in storage management and disaster recovery software for consumers, SMBs and large enterprises.Previously, Beloussov co-founded and helped grow a PC manufacturing business to $150 million in revenue in less than 3 years, the S&W electronics company to over $500 million in only 8 years, and Solomon Software SEA — each of which has become profitable in the first year since inception. He holds a B.S. in Physics, an M.S. in Physics and Electrical Engineering with High Honors, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.

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