During 2013, Kusnetzky Group analysts spoke with representatives of over 300 companies that offer products or services in the areas of virtualization technology, cloud computing or a combination of the two. While KG's crystal ball couldn't be used this year (it's a long story that involves TSA, speaking engagements in other countries and the words "device of mass analysis), we'll give a projection of what we're likely to see in the coming year.
For the most part, the industry is still speaking about virtualization as if the term only referred to virtual machine software and as if it was something companies such as VMware developed in the late 1980s, virtualization has been part of the IT industry landscape since the 1960s. As with the mainframe and the single-vendor midrange system before it, every aspect of industry-standard (X86) system operations is increasingly operated in a virtual environment. This trend offers some powerful and useful options for companies including:
- Desktop computing is no longer has to be relegated to traditional PCs and laptop computers — desktop images can be executed in virtual environments that are hosted on a system in a company's own data center or in the data center of a cloud services provider. While this approach isn't the best for every and all desktop computing workload, for an increasing number of workloads, it can improve levels of security while reducing costs of administration, operations, and costs of hardware and power. Companies such as Citrix, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, VMware and a host of others are offering products and services in this space.
- Workloads developed for earlier versions of Windows can live beyond Microsoft's end of life for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 by being encapsulated and run in a virtual environment. This will give companies the option of continuing to use their own custom workloads or earlier versions of commercial products long enough for them to develop a migration/replacement strategy. Companies such as AppZero, Citrix, Microsoft and VMware are offering products in this space.
- Companies are increasingly realizing that Virtual Machine Software isn't the answer to every possible question. They are beginning to realize that other forms of virtual processing software, such as operating system virtualization and partitioning, can be more efficient. Companies such as HP, IBM, and Parallels are offering products that fit here.
- Storage virtualization strategies and products are being announced on almost a weekly basis. Companies are increasingly realizing that their data must be as agile and virtual as their workloads. The use of technology, such as flash or DRAM for caching can both increase storage performance and reduce storage cost. Companies such as Dell, EMC, Fusion-IO, HDS and NetApp, are finding new and better ways to store data.
- Operational management can be improved through the use of predictive analytics. Companies such as IBM, Nastel, Netuitive, Prelert, Splunk, and Zenoss are helping companies learn more about what they're doing and offering improvement.
- The battle of the cloud platform is likely to continue into the coming year. Although platforms such as CloudStack and OpenStack are gaining ground, the lions share of the market is still in the hands of Amazon and its frienemy Eucalyptus.
- CIOs are learning that some vendors claims of cost reduction aren't really proven out in their company's operations. IBM and a few others would point out that they are looking too narrowly at what their company is doing. These CIOs, would be best advised, these suppliers say, to consider the costs they're not incurring as well as the opportunity costs they can avoid as well.
- As mentioned above in the virtualization section, Desktop as a Service is gaining traction. This can be part of a company's Bring your own device (BYOD) strategy.
2013 was an interesting year and 2014 is likely to continue down that path. The challenge for suppliers is to distinguish their products from those offered by competitors when everyone is using similar catch phrases even though they're often describing different types of technology. KG believes that the industry has nearly reached to place where neither buzzword will be of much interest going forward because these approaches are just how things are done rather than something new and interesting.