This is not a new year predictions list. Given the fact that it’s over two weeks into the new year, this is not a new year anything list. However, after spending the better part of the year so far reviewing the business plans for my clients and working on 2010 strategies I thought it would be valuable to share the common trends I’m seeing as a snapshot of what large enterprises are doing with Virtualization and Cloud Computing.
Keep in mind that my clients cover a number of different business sectors, technology use cases, as well as technology adoption profiles. Across all the business units and groups that I work with, nearly the full range of technology adoption categories are represented: from early adopters to late majority.
Painting with a broad brush, here are the general trends that I’m seeing for the year ahead. I’m interested in hearing from my readers on what they are seeing. Please leave a comment and let me know!
Do More With Less…again
While economists and pundits alike claim the recession is over, I’m seeing the general attitude of doing more with less continue within Enterprises. Part of this can be brought back to some groups leveraging the recession to invest in the future and work on game changing projects. Some of this tends to be more cost cutting constraints where the cutting could be debated as being well past the muscle. I’m even seeing a few groups adding in new key objectives for the year on top of the the ones they had previously agreed to, thus adding more work on the current staff levels.
IT As a Service
This has been one of the most talked about strategic initiatives for IT for over a decade now. While the idea has had numerous names over the years, I’m seeing consistently more and more organizations moving their IT thinking to be more service based. Rather than planning on a project by project basis, it’s about leveraging and maximizing the utilization of your infrastructure across all projects. The logical out spinning of this is measuring and monitoring your capacity to stay ahead of demand. IT organizations are either actively moving toward a services based approach or adapting their plans to start moving this way. The biggest laggard in this area would be the financial systems to charge back IT services to the business units, but most IT organizations is not letting that hold them back — they just plan on adding that charge in when the financial systems catch up. The side affect of this is the IT staff, those with an eye to the future are adapting their skill sets, those who aren’t will be wondering what happened when their jobs go away.
While IT as a Service is not the same as Cloud Computing, there are many similarities. Most of my clients are actively working on building Private Cloud environments where the end users are not just sharing all infrastructure as a service but are completely abstracted from the IT organization managing the infrastructure. Users buy their VMs from a service catalog, get their VMs configured and deployed automatically and then get a bill with usage details every month. When they don’t need their VM anymore, they click the delete button and watch their bill go down. IT is moving to just configuring infrastructure and abstraction management tools and monitoring usage and planning for expansion. The furthest along with this have gotten their with a small number of existing IT architects and engineers and will have an environment that can grow quickly with no additional head count needs.
Desktop Virtualization Foundations
Make no doubt about it; 2010 is the year that the foundation for desktop virtualization will be firmly cemented into IT. The risk mitigation (keeping desktop data in the data center), time savings (quick deployment and updating times) and flexibility (re-use of physical office space for shift workers with each having their own desktop) of virtual desktops are understood and now being leveraged in pilot applications. Once this genie is out of the bottle, desktop users will be wanting more.
The side affects of this include the eventual destruction of old dekstop oriented service vendors and the rise of new virtual desktop solution providers. I don’t think the enterprise is ready for desktops in the cloud run by a 3rd party, but a few of my clients have been asking about putting desktops in their private cloud.
Cracks in the Towers
Another side effect of desktop virtualization is clear cracks forming in the various IT towers. The knee jerk reaction I saw last year to desktop virtualization was the data center folks say “I’m not managing dekstops!”. While moving desktops into the data center doesn’t shuffle the cards of responsibility for the different towers (the desktop team will still be supporting the desktops), it does force these towers to work together more than they have before. Server teams talking to desktop teams. Desktop teams talking to storage teams. All these teams talking to the networking teams. The philosophies of “this is our domain and these are the rules you have to follow” are being softened by the stones being thrown at it from virtualization. Desktops in the data center requires everyone to think outside their normal boxes and understand the end users’ needs are changing.
Data Center Virtualization: Narrower and Deeper
As data center virtualization has continued on it’s march, it has resulted in the physical infrastructure options within the data center to narrow. By standardizing on a smaller number of physical options within the data center, virtualize becomes less complex and automation becomes easier. At the same time, the use cases for virtualization continue to get deeper. Virtualization first policies are forcing all business units to run everything in a VM.
A side effect of these aspects of virtualization’s success is that CIOs are now looking at other areas of expense and driving for consolidation there as well: software, services, even real estate.
Migration to ESXi
VMware has been stating for a number of years now that ESXi (a thin hypervisor with API only access for automated management and a much smaller security attack surface) is the wave of the future. IT organizations have finally realized that VMware wasn’t kidding. With only two weeks into the new year, I have seen more requests to discuss ESXi that I did all last year. And with the automation and stateless aspects of ESXi that were talked about at VMworld 2009, I expect this area of activity to only pick up.