If you're not doing virtualisation you're either thinking about it, planning to do it, piloting it or at least reading about it. If you're not, well you're not really into IT. For the last few years the technology has been searing its way into the minds of decision makers and spreading its virtual tentacles into assorted elements of the IT architecture.
From servers to storage and networks to desktops, virtualisation has made its disruptive mark. And with the trend trickling down from large enterprise to the SMB space, many observers predict virtualisation will sucker a firmer hold on the Australian IT market in coming years.
According to figures from Gartner, in high per capita GDP Asia-Pacific nations like Australia, the amount of x86 servers that are virtualised will rise from 2 to 7 per cent by 2012. On the one physical server they predict an average of eight virtual servers by 2012 (up from six in 2007) and 30 per cent of operating systems to be run on virtual machines. Globally the analyst firm forecasts more than 4 million virtual machines will be installed on x86 servers by 2009 and the number of virtualised PCs will grow to 660 million by 2011.
While the figures are still relatively low at the moment, it is clear the push is beginning to move from hype to action. To gain a better understanding of how the virtualisation trend is unfolding we asked five companies to give us their views on some of the best ways and reasons to implement a virtualisation solution.
HP SAVE POWER, REDUCE COSTS, DECREASE DESK FOOTPRINT WITH THIN CLIENTS AND A VIRTUAL INFRASTRUCTURE
For HP's group manager of commercial product marketing personal systems group, Rob Kingston, the fact that many vendors now have virtualisation built into their servers makes it easier for organisations to deploy thin clients in the workplace and take advantage of a virtual infrastructure.
"I think the virtual desktop solutions that have been out there to date haven't really taken off - there has been a lot of hype and waiting," Kingston said. "Being available out of the box is great."
Through virtualisation and the use of thin clients, the provisioning of new desktops can be completed in minutes rather than hours or even days, he claimed.
"The opportunity I think is fantastic for getting rid of those distributed desk-tops and taking out a lot of the cost not only of the hardware, the power savings and the footprint on the desk but also taking away the management costs associated with the desk side of the business," Kingston said. "And also getting productivity gains from less down time."
He highlighted the education sector as one space where this trend is starting to appear. As the utilisation rate of PCs in institutions and the education sector is low it presents a chance for channel partners to make a play, Kingston claimed.
"That is what I see as the biggest opportunity at present because of the money that is being spent," he said.
"Depending on the lifecycle or where an organisation is at with their distributed desktop environment they may look at the back-end first and use their existing PCs as the access infrastructure until those machines come off lease and then replace them with a thin client device. And then over time transition to a solid-state device."