Appliances may well be a big part of the future of the datacenter. While virtualization and the tools to provision on the fly mean that new servers and applications can be quickly delivered, it's possible that the dedicated, special need server or application may eventually be delivered in a plug and play appliance. While not virtualization, appliances offer similar benefits in the sense that they can be dropped into an existing enterprise to fit a specific need.
There are a growing number of storage and application appliances making their way onto the datacenter. Originally, that market for these devices was smaller, less centralized computing infrastructures, but as IT services have consolidated, appliances have grown into devices that are capable of handling datacenter type chores and not just fit the needs of small offices.
Dedicated, special purpose computing devices will, for the foreseeable future, have their place in the datacenter. It will be very interesting to see what the future brings in terms of these devices in the datacenter world. Combining virtualized environments with special purpose appliances to solve business problems is beginning to look like a very practical solution that could simplify the deployment of new datacenters. Vendors ranging from IBM to NetApp are looking for new, innovative ways to combine these technologies. What place do you see for them in your enterprise?