During 2014, Kusnetzky Group analysts spoke with representatives of over 200 different suppliers and their customers. Here are a few of the things we learned.
The industry standard system (x86-based) market is finally coming to the realization that virtualization is far more than merely the use of virtual machine software to encapsulate systems to create a more agile, potentially reliable, environment. We're seeing quite a few customers starting to look at how to create virtualized environments that included virtual access, application virtualization, security for virtualized environments, management of virtualized environments and many forms of processing virtualization, storage virtualization, and network virtualization.
The analysts have spoken with a number of interesting companies in each of those areas of virtualization and it appears that their customers are getting benefits from creating these virtualized environnents.
Quite a few of these suppliers have gone the next step of separating the control of those environments and making control functions available programmatically, that is through an API. The marketing catch phrase for this is "software defined environments."
In the coming year, we expect to see more enterprises moving from just supporting virtualized environments to creating software-defined environments.
The industry is in the middle of an exciting battle over cloud computing frameworks. The contenders, including Amazon Web Services, VMware's vCloud Suite, OpenStack and CloudStack, are gathering up followers and doing their best to be seen as the only choice.
What is likely to happen is that efforts to create cross-platform standards allowing workloads to migrate from one environment to another or to execute locally will appear to remove software lock-in and to reduce the trend towards creating "islands of computing."
The analysts have spoken with a number of suppliers that are doing their best to make enterprise grade applications available to users of smartphones, tablets as well as to more traditional laptop and desktop systems.
Depending upon the target device, these vendors are fielding a mix of the following approaches.
- Apps - suppliers are making it easier for enterprises to develop apps for Smartphones and Tablets allowing access to remote applications. This can be seen as the next generation of client/server computing. Some are focused on developing HTML 5 front ends to enterprise applications rather than developing an App for each important device or operating system.
- Virtual access - some suppliers are offering tools that allow access to encapsulated, virtual applications and services. The actual application executes on a local workgroup server, a departmental server, or a business unit server. Only the access tools run locally.
- Application virtualization - some suppliers have developed tools allowing an entire application to be encapsulated so that it runs in an isolated, neutral environment. This encapsulated application can then be delivered to remote devices on demand installed in a more formal process. Some suppliers make it possible for these applications to disappear once they have finished executing, disappear upon command, disappear on a timed basis or reside on the remote device more permanently.
- Processing virtualization - entire client systems, including an operating system, data management, application frameworks and application to be encapsulated. They can be sent over the air to compatible remote systems, be formally installed on those systems, installed on servers and the accessed remotely. As with application virtualization, some suppliers make it possible for these images to disappear once finished executing, disappear upon command, disappear on a timed basis or reside on the remote device more permanently.
Since the industry is seeing an explosion of intelligent, hand held devices, we expect to see a great deal of attention on delivering applications either as cloud services (often based upon access or application virtualization) or as apps.
We're expecting to see another exciting year for virtualization and cloud computing environments. It is clear that the industry has moved on from just speaking about the benefits of virtualized environments to building that type of thinking into the way applications are generally designed and deployed.
After the recent industry news about loss of confidential customer data, Internet attacks on companies and other mischief, we expect to see many more suppliers jump into creative solutions to secure enterprise and consumer computing environments.