Recession-battered companies that are already highly efficient will hold server virtualization adoption steady in 2010. This prediction could be proved wrong if two of 2009's big releases bear fruit in 2010: VMware's vSphere 4 and Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V.
Gartner says that workloads running on virtual machines will increase
significantly in 2010. I'm not so sure. I think that most industries are
already highly efficient, and efficiency is really the raison d'??Â¼tre for server
virtualization. I predict that server virtualization will hold steady-if not be
As reported by my eWEEK news colleague Jeffrey Burt, Gartner analysts at the
Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in October released a survey that said, "Only 16
percent of current IT workloads are running on virtual machines. However,
that's expected to increase to 50 percent by the end of 2012, and use of VMs
will grow most quickly among small and midsize businesses."
There were important virtualization developments in 2009 that may account
for the Gartner survey results and that also counter my "sluggish
Intel and AMD created new server
processors that were important hardware advancements for virtualization. The
two companies also recently settled a lawsuit that will likely smooth server
virtualization deployments: It's possible that in the not-too-distant future,
IT managers won't have to make a choice between AMD
and Intel to get the advanced high-performance features offered by hypervisor
platforms. And VMware, Microsoft and a host of open-source-based hypervisor
platforms released important new versions of their wares.
The big hardware change in 2009 was Intel's shipment of the Xeon 5500 family
of Nehalem processors. AMD Opteron
processors have had Hypertransport and a more direct memory controller for
years. Similar capabilities were released in the Intel Nehalem processors that
make servers based on this technology significantly more friendly to
virtualization tools and also much more energy-efficient.
And the beefed-up, power-conserving capabilities built into the Intel Xeon
5500 processors put the Nehalem family at the center of two of the most
important virtualization advances of the year: VMware's vSphere 4 and Cisco's
Unified Computing System.
Backing my theory is the IDC Worldwide
Quarterly Server Tracker, which showed that both shipments and revenues for
x86-based servers fell sharply in 2009. Economic instability was the main
reason cited for the decline. Server virtualization was also mentioned as a
possible reason, with some IT managers saying they had delayed server spending
in anticipation of buying AMD Instanbul
(basically a six-core Shanghai-class Opteron processor) and Nehalem-equipped
server hardware. But this was only an "also ran" reason for the overall
slowdown in server shipments.
I could be proved wrong-and would be happy if I were-if two big releases
this year bear fruit next year: VMware's vSphere 4 and Microsoft's Windows
Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V.
VMware products are widely deployed, and the benefits that vSphere brings
are compelling enough to warrant consideration in any VMware (or other) shop.
And Microsoft's Hyper-V release in Windows Server 2008 R2 is nothing to sniff
at. For organizations that can use the included virtualization capability
provided by Microsoft's operating system, there is every reason to believe that
more server virtualization projects will be attempted in 2010.
Virtualization for almost all application workloads is inevitable. Some of
that will happen in the cloud, especially as gloomy business conditions make
stable, predictable (and never-ending) cloud rental options appealing. Some
will happen on virtual machines hosted in your own data center.
I'm interested to see if the inexorable drive for efficiency will be as
intense as predicted, especially in a year in which we will be recovering from
one of the worst recessions in our country's history.
Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at