Virtualisation – The Answer to World Poverty and Global Warming?

This week has witnessed more development in the virtualisation field than could comfortably be covered by a large posse of analysts each armed with virtualised light sabres. Indeed, the last 4 days could mark a real coming of age of virtualisation; just count the events:

The first VMworld show in Europe star studied with announcements from VMware and a veritable host of partners

IBM launching its latest, greatest Mainframe and the archetypal virtualisation platform, the z10

Microsoft heroically introducing the Windows Server 2008 platform

These developments will each bring new capabilities to different facets of virtualisation but there are a couple of aspects the avalanche of announcements spotlight, namely the twin deities of the potential for energy savings and monetary optimisation. Indeed virtualisation and its attendant cohorts are so brimming with vitality and ideas that the primary danger to be tackled in the coming weeks and months will be the need for every organisation to sort out the wheat from the chaff. And with so many developments occurring in parallel this task will turn out to be no mean challenge.

So where should organisations first look? Well, probably by considering their local equivalents of “world poverty” and “global warming”, namely power consumption and its attendant, and now highly visible, costs. Virtualisation in all its facets from the desktop PC, through the boughs of x86 servers through to high end servers and the vast volumes of data now held by organisations still offer plenty of scope for resource usage optimisation. But this is just the beginning. The real challenge ahead lies in managing complex virtualised environments not simply at the system level but at a business service level.

VMware and its growing array of partners recognises this and the whole community is now setting out to deliver management tools to help administrators keep virtualised environments, not just individual virtual machines running when and where required. In fact it is really interesting to watch these companies slowly putting together the numerous administrative and automation tools that the grand-father of virtualisation, and still the gold standard in so many ways, has long taken for granted. The mainframe, for it is that of which I speak, is now coming out fighting on the green / energy efficient / space optimisation front in addition to its long held virtues of reliability, scalability and security. X86 virtualisation is moving forward rapidly and offers many benefits when well deployed but a close look at the area highlights how many of the developments taking place are seeking to mimic the capabilities of the mainframe.

This is to be encouraged. Our research shows that it is fair to say that most organisations are now very comfortable with the drivers for the adoption of virtualisation solutions on x86 servers. There is much less understanding of the potential for storage virtualisation and virtualisation of the desktop. These areas will move rapidly in the coming months, but there is a clear communication gap between the suppliers on one side and the users on the other. And guess what? Power reduction and monetary savings will figure high on the reasons why these should be considered. A solution to global warming and world poverty? Maybe not. But definitely a step in the right direction, even if there were not a host of other good reasons to look at virtualisation.

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