Virtualisation of business server and storage assets will be the most important technology in IT infrastructure and operations up until 2010, changing how IT departments manage, buy, deploy, plan and charge for services.
According to Gartner vice-president Thomas Bittman, virtualisation is no longer about server and storage consolidation and cost saving.
“It is now less about the technology and more about process change and cultural change within organisations,” said Bittman. “Virtualisation enables alternative delivery models for services.
“Each virtualised layer can be managed relatively independently or even owned by someone else, for example streamed applications or employee-owned PCs. This can require major cultural changes for organisations.”
The total number of virtual machines deployed worldwide is expected to increase from 540,000 at the end of 2006 to more than four million by 2009, according to Gartner, but this is still only a fraction of the potential market.
“Several things will make virtualisation critical to most enterprises in the next few years: the need to consolidate space, power, installation and integration, and providing server resources which are capable of responding to unpredictable workloads,” Bittman said.
“By the end of next year, virtual machine hypervisor technology will be almost free, embedded in servers by hardware manufacturers and in operating systems by software vendors, further accelerating adoption.”
Virtualisation is having a considerable impact on the server market worldwide, according to Gartner.
“Every virtual server has the potential to take another physical server off the market,” Bittman said.
“Today more than 90pc of users deploying virtual machines are doing so specifically to reduce x86 server, space and energy costs. We believe that virtualisation reduced the x86 server market by 4pc in 2006 and by 2009 it will have a far greater impact,” Bittman claimed.
By John Kennedy