Virtualization is abstracting functions or complete stacks of software away from the underlying infrastructure to increase scalability, reliability, performance, utilization, agility, manageability or just to reduce overall costs in some fashion. There are many different layers of technology required to create a completely virtualized environment including virtualizing access to storage resources, virtualizing processing, virtualizing applications, virtualizing access and, of course making sure these virtualized environments are both secure and well managed.
Software and hardware implementing these layers of virtualiztion have been used in some form or another for over 30 years. Organizations of all sizes, in all geographic regions and in all markets are very likely to be using this approach and yet, for some reason, the term "virtualization" seems to become one of the buzzwords of the hour. Unfortunately, this word has become so overloaded with different meanings that it would be very easy for people to become confused.
I'm constantly surprised by the interesting and creative attempts some suppliers are making to include the word "virtualization" in the messaging for their current products. The attempt to align a company's statements to the media, to analysts and to end user organizations with some current trend is nothing new. The history book of IT is filled with many examples.
Do you remember how many things were suddenly labeled "client/server" even though most of them merely allowed individuals to access server-centric applications using some form of remote access software. Later many of these same applications become "Web" applications when the remote access mechanism was replaced with the use of a Web server and a Web Browser.
Over the past few weeks, several vendors of remote control software, that is software allowing users to access applications and data on PCs or servers via the Internet, have been presenting their products to me as forms of "application virtualiztion." When I look more closely, it's clear that many of these products are more like terminal emulation 2.0 rather than application virtualization. Search as I might, I don't see any form of abstraction going on.
Several other vendors have used the word "virtualiztion" when speaking of their remote configuration and management software for PCs. While I'm sure that their marketing groups have adopted the term virtualiztion as part of their marketing lexicon, I'm not at all sure if virtualiztion entered into their product roadmap as well.
Do these attempts to wrap established products up as a form of virtualiztion convince your organization or do you see it in some other way? Do you believe that "virtualization" has begun to lose its meaning and has become just another buzzword used in the attempt to get your organization to "sign a check?"