Symantec appears to be adapting to the changing climate; where physical systems and endpoints once ruled the day, virtualization management tools are now appearing on the landscape.
For IT managers, the gap between Symantec's vision--if you will--and the reality of ubiquitous management is still significant, but closing.
The gap is revealed in the announcement today of Veritas Virtual Infrastructure, to be released sometime this fall. VVI will be released with support for Citrix XenServer virtualization technology from Citrix Systems, but not for VMware's ESX or Microsoft's still-to-be-released-but-out-there Hyper-V. Based on some of the virtualization workshops I attended, including "Deploying Veritas Storage Foundation in Server Virtualized Environments," it's clear that Symantec's engineers can do more with the open-source XenServer than proprietary VMware. From remarks made in the session, I get the idea that Symantec has been in fairly constant communication with VMware to close the gap and enable VVI to work more closely with VMware's ESX. It may be a more rocky trail for Symantec to traverse to get Microsoft to open up.
During his keynote at the Symantec Vision user conference, now a series of geography-based events instead of a worldwide conference, Chairman and CEO John Thompson spoke on to the topic of virtualization about 15 minutes into his remarks. Based on his comments and my attendance at just about every virtualization session on Monday and Tuesday, it's clear that Symantec is feeling the swell of the virtualization bubble.
It's interesting to watch the company that makes the products that likely manage your storage environment (through Veritas), your anti-virus or your desktop management tools (through Altiris) start to make the move from a focus solely on physical systems to one where virtual machines in the data center and virtual applications on the endpoint (through Altiris SVS) make this adjustment.
Thompson said that from his days nearly 30 years ago when he sold IBM mainframes to today, data center servers have gone from being highly efficient (IBM mainframes) with very slow application development cycles to the reverse today, where x86 servers often run around 20 percent utilization but with very fast application development. We could argue that he's actually being too generous about today's utilization rates, but his basic premise stands. The premise isn't new, and Thompson's follow-up statements -- that virtualization is moving from test environments to production -- aren't new either. What is new is that Symantec is moving to bring its management tools to the virtualization table.
The key for IT managers now is to take a strategic look at what tools are going to be used to make the physical to virtual transition work for sustained productivity gains. The real cost-savings and ephemeral charms of virtualization have nearly reached the tipping point where the competitive advantage of fully utilized hardware is going to drop off as virtualization becomes the norm.
The next step for IT managers who decide to keep IT in-house will be to ensure that the virtualized environment is managed to within an inch of its life.