Virtualisation as a whole will have a transformational business impact within the next two to five years.
This is according to Gartner, which has published its first hype cycle for virtualisation, outlining 36 technologies at different stages of development. It identifies six technologies that will have a business transformational impact within the next five years. Among them are the virtualisation trend as a whole, x86 server hypervisors and the PC virtual software appliances.
Gartner defines IT virtualisation as the abstraction of IT resources in a way that masks the physical nature and boundaries of those resources from resource users. An IT resource can be a server, a client, storage, networks, applications, operating systems or a search engine.
“Virtualisation is not simply one technology, rather it is many technologies that are all evolving at different rates,” says Thomas Bittman, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “There are many different forms of virtualisation, and the challenge is in choosing which form of virtualisation to use. Organisations should be cautious about vendors that promote one technology to manage everything as, in the end, architectures will include many different virtualisation layers, with many different management mechanisms.
“Virtualisation makes it easier for IT to deliver faster, to have a lower barrier to entry and to deliver only exactly what is needed – no more and no less,” says Bittman. “This puts more pressure on the user to use IT efficiently and to make good business decisions about the use of IT.”
In less than two years, x86 server hypervisors will have a transformational business effect.
“Hypervisor-based virtualisation is a strategic technology that will become the default for most servers within three years,” says Phil Dawson, research vice-president at Gartner. “Server virtualisation technology reduces hardware costs through server consolidation and by increasing hardware utilisation. Hypervisors further enable rapid server deployment, often increasing server deployment times by a factor of 30.”
The flexibility enabled by hypervisors will give operations more freedom in workload hosting, and the potential ability in the future to migrate workloads in virtual machine (VM) format to cloud service providers. Gartner believes that, in the long term, this technology will become the basis for such processes as completely changing server chargeback, planned downtime management, capacity planning and disaster recovery.
Gartner also predicts that PC virtual software appliances will have a transformational business impact in the next two to five years.
A PC virtual software appliance is a dedicated PC partition or virtual machine providing a single application or function, without the complexity of a full PC operating system (OS). By adopting an appliance approach, organisations will be able to deliver individual functions (such as firewalls, asset management, TV recorders or media players) as separate modules that run alongside, rather than on top of (or from within), the standard PC OS.
“PC virtual software appliances will accelerate product innovation cycles for suppliers and result in faster load times for users. They will become a major PC development platform, rivaling OS integration as a major focus of the PC industry's R&D efforts for targeted security and management functions,” says Brian Gammage, vice-president and Gartner Fellow. “However, broad mainstream implementation will require a client hypervisor standard, which is still emerging.”
Gartner predicts that once hypervisors are offered with new PCs, virtual appliances will allow PC vendors to establish functional differentiation between products based on the same hardware components. Their use will also become essential for delivering some platform-level functions (such as disc encryption and power management) on PCs that run multiple virtual machines.