Year in review: Virtualization

Virtualization went mainstream in 2008 —desktop virtualization gained some ground, and Microsoft Corp. and Citrix Systems continued to nip at the heels of long-time market leader VMWare. And even the wariest of IT managers are coming around to the idea of virtual machines, whether it be servers or apps—or even, someday, mobile.

Microsoft’s entry to the market was big news, with the release of the Hyper-V, built in to Microsoft Server 2008. Microsoft has even been closing in on market leader VMWare Inc., and continues to sign up partners and make Microsoft-brand virtualization announcements .

Citrix has been rushing gung-ho into the market ever since it acquired Xen in late 2007, and has been pushing its XenApp and XenServer . Citrix has also been a leader in the desktop virtualization space with its XenDesktop product, with VMWare coming up behind with its own VMWare View 3 and vClient Initiative .

Even Red Hat is getting into the game via its purchase of Qumranet, and the announcement of its Embedded Linux Hypervisor, oVirt. Sun Microsystems Inc., too, is offering an end-to-end virtualization solution .

Another area virtualization is spreading into is the mobile space. One intriguing possibility is the idea of having a persona instead of being tied to specific devices —very handy for the executive juggling several phones. VMWare is making a push into this space with the Mobile Virtualization Platform , as well as Citrix with its mobile version of XenDesktop .

Storage virtualization is another option on the horizon for IT managers, even though it can be harder to virtualize storage. Storage virtualization can help with cost reduction , however, and better utilizing what is already there. One lesson learned in 2008? IT managers should also keep a steady hand: don’t virtualize everything just because one can.

On the management front, virtualization has raised a whole new slew of issues. First there was machine sprawl, and now there’s virtual sprawl . How best to manage everything? One tip is to model power consumption after actual peak use times, and, of course, don’t over-implement just because the machines are virtual: virtual machine management is still management.

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