Reflections: Jim Lenox, VMware

Jim Lenox, country manager, Asia South, VMware

Jim Lenox
Jim Lenox, country manager, Asia South, VMware, says making IT infrastructures more energy efficient is a pan-industry effort

Q. What will be the next big thing in virtualization in 2007?
The major trends in virtualization for the next 12 months can be summarized in terms of three big A's: adoption, automation, appliances.

Adoption--According to IDC, the expected number of virtual machines (VM) deployed worldwide in 2006 was 2.1 million. It is clear that adoption of virtualization among enterprises is expected to continue sky-rocketing over the next few years. Why? Because adoption of virtualization has a transformative effect on the enterprise. It fundamentally changes the way they provision and manage applications and prioritize resources for business needs.

Automation--This is a real paradigm shift. In the past, customers managed their computing resources manually. With the arrival of VMware's third generation of virtualization software about six months ago, customers now have virtual machines with built-in and automated load balancing, availability, and mobility. Businesses are leveraging this intelligent automation of virtual machines to achieve unprecedented business continuity, up-time and optimization in their x86 infrastructure environments. You will see more enterprises moving to virtualized x86 platforms with the benefit of uptime and availability being a major driver for adoption.

Finally, appliances--The rise of the virtual appliance will gain momentum. So what are virtual appliances (VA)? Virtual appliances are pre-built virtual machines that contain al the preconfigured software--operating system and applications--to achieve a particular purpose. Virtual appliances also save customers the time and effort to install and configure software. They also allow application builders to create a very nimble special purpose operating system, or to choose a general purpose operating system that best fits their application. With virtual appliances software vendors can deliver a high performance, plug-and-play, turnkey software solution to the end user.

CIOs and businesses still say IT costs are high. Name one issue that you think the industry should collectively work harder to address.
With rising energy demands around the world, and corresponding rise in electricity costs around the world, power and cooling expenditures have come to the forefront of the IT department agenda. For example, the power consumption of the average server has increased fourfold over the past five years.

The quest for resources and energy efficiency is a pan-industry effort--there are multiple industry efforts to make IT infrastructure more energy efficient. Processor vendors Intel and AMD have unveiled more energy efficient processors; system vendors are working on optimizing server power consumption. Virtualization also has an enormous role to play in saving companies' power and cooling costs, and in reducing the environmental impact of IT. One of the primary use cases for virtualization is server consolidation, which allows companies to reduce the number of physical servers and the associated power and cooling bill multiple times.

Name the top 3 software issues that CIOs in Asia should pay attention to in 2007?
The three top software issues that Asian CIOs should pay attention to in 2007 are "the changing role of the operating system", security and virtualization.

The changing role of the operating system is a big issue that will start to attract real attention.

The changing role of the operating system is a big issue that will start to attract real attention, and the coming one to two years will be an inflection point in how the operating system is viewed by IT professionals.

Traditionally, the operating system has had two main roles--to control the interfaces to the hardware, and to control the interfaces to applications. Because the operating system has had to fulfil both roles, over time, general purpose operating systems have become big, complex and relatively unwieldy. General purpose operating systems have also become a point of security risk. As the adoption of virtualization technology continues, the interface into the hardware--will be controlled by the virtualization layer, so the operating system can focus on managing the application interfaces. In this new paradigm, the application becomes the center of attention--application builders can select an operating system that is the best fit for the application, or they can create a nimble special purpose operating system that performs only the functions that the application requires.

Customers are seeing the effects already with the emergence of virtual appliances. For application vendors this means freedom, and for customers it means convenience.

The two other major issues that I would emphasize are security and virtualization, which are issues that will remain top of mind for the coming year.

Security threats today are not just about virus threats. The threats have extended into security of the information and access to it. Virtualization can play a major role in improving security around information access by leveraging the attributes of virtual machines to create separate and isolated environments.

As for the impact of virtualization in the enterprise, the statistics really speak for themselves here. According to the latest IDC study, the worldwide virtualization software market will expand to more than US$1.8 billion in 2009. The virtualization software market in 2006 was about US$810 million, up 46 percent from US$560 million in 2005. These statistics point to a continued blistering pace of high adoption. This rate of adoption is driven by a much wider customer application of virtualization extending beyond the traditional test and development usage or server consolidation to areas such as business continuity, high availability, and disaster recovery.

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