New survey links cloud computing to virtualization

The new abstraction: from the OS to the application and infrastructure

The more organizations get into virtualization, the more likely they are also looking at cloud computing strategies.

The new abstraction: from the OS to the infrastructure

Through my work with Unisphere Research (Information Today Inc.), I recently wrote a study on "total enterprise virtualization" for SHARE, the independent user group for large IBM systems. The results, drawn from 388 participating organizations, found a lot of interest in extending virtualization across the enterprise.

The purpose of the survey was to assess the understanding and reach of total enterprise virtualization, which incorporates a range of strategies that enable the simplification, abstraction or decoupling of services or resources from underlying systems and hardware—from server and storage virtualization all the way up to internal and external cloud computing. SOA is part of this mix as well.

The survey finds virtualization is on the radar screens for most enterprises, yet most respondents admit they are still learning and understanding virtualization.

In addition, the SHARE survey found that most organizations are still in the early stages of cloud computing. Currently, about 13% of large enterprises and 10% of small to medium-size companies SMEs. However, there's a strong link between cloud computing and other virtualization strategies, to the point where cloud computing is a logical extension of more advanced internal virtualization efforts.

Respondents moving to cloud computing already are likely to be well-versed in virtualization. For example, there's a prevalence of storage virtualization (77% for cloud adopters; 45% overall) and network virtualization (56% in cloud adopters versus 27% overall) technologies in organizations that are also adopting cloud computing. A majority of cloud adopters, 51%, also are already engaged in application virtualization -- versus 16% of the entire survey group.

Most virtualization initiatives are scattered and few are enterprise in scope. The most common implementations are server virtualization (69%), followed by storage virtualization (45%) and network virtualization (27%). The survey also finds that enterprise virtualization goals align closely with IT business goals, from consolidation and operational streamlining to achieving “greener” IT.

While virtualization is well understood, actual hands-on experience is rare. More than half of survey respondents (54%) say they have at least some experience with virtualization technologies. However, only 14% consider this to be deep, hands-on knowledge of virtualization.

There is recognition that virtualization functions well as an enterprise strategy. More than half (53%) of survey respondents say that virtualization (in some form) comprises a part of their long-term strategy. What's more, nearly a quarter (22%) of the remaining 47% say they're examining virtualization technologies as part of their long-term strategies. Right now, most virtualization practices are "spotty," confined to individual departments or business units.

Nevertheless, many implementations are targeting enterprise systems, the survey also finds. Nearly half (46%) of the respondents say they're looking at virtualization strategies to support enterprise applications.

Total enterprise virtualization is an incremental process that will evolve over an extended period of time, not through single solutions or overnight implementations. Technology managers and professionals recognize the strategic advantages of enterprise virtualization, but need to instill awareness, as well as identify and develop the skills required to leverage new virtualization approaches, across all parts of their organizations.

For all the latest news and trend perspectives on virtualization, be sure to check out my esteemed colleague Dan Kusnetzky's blogsite here at the ZDNet community.

(SHARE's press release on the study is available here at the SHARE site. The full study is available to SHARE members.)