'Perfect storm' for virtualization uptake in Asia

The high mobile device penetration and disaster recovery awareness are among key reasons why VMware expects Asia will lead in pace of adoption for virtualization and cloud computing.
Written by Ryan Huang, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO--A "collision" of various factors in Asia, such as high mobile penetration and disaster recovery awareness, have led to a shift in business models and CIO perspectives over policies. This is likely to see the region lead in virtualization efforts and cloud adoption globally.

Andrew Dutton, general manager for Asia-Pacific and Japan at VMware, pointed out that virtualization would be driven by factors including the increasing demand for information access over multiple locations and devices; security concerns over data storage; cost pressures on IT budgets convincing CIOs to be more flexible over policies; new business models evolving around cloud-based technology; and a push from government policies.

"We're seeing this creation of a storm, almost a perfect storm, that's happened because so many things have now collided," said Dutton in an interview with ZDNet Asia during the ongoing VMworld conference.

Mobile penetration driving adoption
These trends are especially relevant in Asia, which is driving the virtualization of end-point devices faster than anywhere else in the world, he said. "That has been extraordinary, I didn't see it coming. That growth will not stop," he noted.

The general manager cited examples such as the "staggering" figure across the Asia-Pacific where many countries were the largest users of mobile devices in the world. He pointed out that there were 780 million mobile devices running the Android operating system in mainland China, and "every area" of India was covered by mobile telephony.

"Everyone has access to this technology and everyone is finding ways to do business, which was not even thought of 12 months ago," he added.

Dutton added adoption was being led by the finance industry, call centers, healthcare, and government sector. However, the education sector while generally showing promise was "not quite there yet" due to its funding constraints.

VMware's chief technology officer, Steve Herrod, added in a separate press briefing that the company had based its research and development (R&D) efforts for the mobile space in Asia--primarily learning from its facilities in China and India.

Disaster recovery awareness
Virtualization and cloud computing are also gaining importance among enterprises, especially in markets affected badly by natural disasters last year and leading to others paying more attention to disaster recovery implementations, Dutton noted.

Japan, for one, was one of the strongest-growing markets in Asia for cloud deployment driven in part by rebuilding efforts among companies following the tsunami and earthquake last March, the general manager said.

The floods in Thailand have also raised awareness over the benefits of virtualization and cloud among many companies in the region, Phil Montgomery, senior director for desktop product management at VMware, said in a separate interview.

He pointed out its virtual desktop interface (VDI) based on Mirage technology from its recent acquisition of Wanova will help emerging markets with infrastructure challenges. The "layering" technology allows data processing to be transferred via a local machine instead of through a server, thus making it less reliant on a stable or fast Internet connection, Montgomery explained.

Stepping up Asia efforts
These two main drivers will help the virtualization vendor gain a bigger foothold into Asia, which incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger said was the "least penetrated region" for the company and is something he hopes to improve on.

Dutton added that VMware would be deploying technical architects to provide consultancy for interested companies and help them understand how best to adopt virtualization for their businesses and work toward a cloud-based IT environment.

In terms of manpower, he hopes to expand from the existing 3,000 employees--which has more than doubled since 2010--in the region, but did not share further details.
However, Michael Barnes, research director at Forrester Research, cautioned that the take up in desktop virtualization may lag in the Asia-Pacific, as many companies start to "feel the pain of poor mobility strategies".

"Desktop virtualization will remain a key component of many organizatons’ end-user computing strategies, but its role will remain limited for a variety of reasons," Barnes noted, in a June blog post.

The research director explained this was mainly due to concerns over performance and usability, and application licensing restrictions. Other factors hindering demand include high costs relative to benefits; a lack of understanding and expertise, and user resistance.

Ryan Huang of ZDNet Asia reported from VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, United States.

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