Several years ago, we began using virtualization technologies as means to test servers and use resources more effectively. When VMware became a hypervisor, very few vendors actually supported a virtual infrastructure. So, virtualization was left behind in the classroom, and the development environment within numerous organizations.
With the awareness quickly rising, administrators saw that server resources were being wasted dramatically and that virtualization was a way to curtail that. And with that, the pressure rose on vendors to support a virtual state. From there, server virtualization made its way into almost all data center environments as more organizations adopted the technology to help align their business needs.
Now – we’ve entered the next frontier…. We’re way beyond simple server virtualization and are exploring new avenues to make virtualization an even more powerful platform. Let’s take a look at some of these technologies.
- Application Delivery. If we can virtualize a server, why not apps? Popularity with products like XenApp, ThinApp, and now Cloud Volumes continues to increase. Administrators are able to stream or delivery applications to the end-user without actually deploying them at the end-point. This sort of control and manageability makes app virtualization very plausible. In fact, many of the big Fortune 500 organizations have some type of application virtualization deployed already. The next iteration of application and virtualization will absolutely revolve around secure clientless delivery. HTML5 allows you to stream entire applications directly to a web browser. This can helped revolutionize how end-points are being deployed and how organizations control resources.
- Hosted/Virtual/Cloud Desktops. People have realized that VDI isn’t as easy as it may seem. Numerous underlying components can make this technology a bit cumbersome. Today, there has been a resurgence behind VDI and the delivery of complete virtual desktops. Similar to applications, HTML5 can also steam entire desktops directly to a browser. The other big aspect is how far the data center has come as well. Converged infrastructure, better resource controls and more use-cases are actually resulting in more VDI deployments today. The future, however, might be a bit different. The concept of a “desktop” as we know it might be going away as the focus shifts even more towards the delivery of applications and data.
- Network Virtualization (SDN and NFV). Also known as software defined networks (SDN), network virtualization has allowed the administrator much greater control over a network infrastructure. Where one physical NIC had its limitations, new technologies allow for numerous virtual networking designations on a corporate network. Another big network virtualization push revolves around network functions virtualization (NFV). You can now virtualize specific network functions and allow them to run as individual nodes connecting with other communication and networking services. For example, you can have virtual machines or appliances running as virtual load balancers, firewalls, and even WAN optimizers.
- Security Abstraction. There will always be room in the IT world for more traditional unified threat management devices. However, hardened physical appliances aside, more organizations have deployed security platforms on top of a VM. The flexibility to clone security appliances, place them at various points within the organization and assign specific functions to them makes security virtualization very appealing. Imagine having a security appliance VM only doing DLP, IPS/IDS. This type of deployment can be very strategic and beneficial. Furthermore, you’re going to see a lot more virtual services specifically designed to protect your cloud. Inter-cloud connectivity needs a good security practice. This is where more virtual appliances helping bind security services spanning multiple cloud services are really going to help.
- User Virtualization. With IT consumerization and mobility making a presence, more organizations have been looking for ways to abstract the user layer from devices, applications and end-points. And so, user virtualization was born. Solutions from technologies like AppSense provide a way for a user to transfer their personalized settings from application to application and from platform to platform. Basically, users are able to carry their settings with them as they migrate from various systems and applications. Furthermore, you can tie the user’s compute profile between various end-points and even cloud resources.
- Storage Virtualization. A single storage controller can be logically carved up so well, that they appear to be their own standalone units to the administrator. Using storage more efficiently is on the front page of many project lists. Controller multi-tenancy is just one example of how storage virtualization plays a role in today’s IT world. Another big example is what’s happening around software-defined storage. An organization’s ability to completely abstract every storage resource and point it to a virtual layer for management is absolutely a reality. Today’s heterogeneous storage architecture is asking for a better way to manage solid disks, storage arrays, and cloud resources.
- Server Virtualization. This stays on the list only because server virtualization continues to evolve and expand. With entire platforms being designed for server virtualization, more emphasis is being placed on how to better use a virtual environment. There continues to be a need for virtualizing the server and to better incorporate virtualization efficiencies into the modern data center. However, a lot of future conversation around server virtualization revolves around commodity server systems. Remember, your hypervisor is a lot more power than ever before. Future capabilities will allow you to create even better underlying server resource management solutions to help keep your underlying data center very agile.
The list will most likely grow as more environments seek ways to be even more efficient. Already, virtualization technologies are helping many businesses cut costs, regain control, and allow for greater growth with their infrastructure. The most important point to remember here is that the logical (virtual) layer will be critical to help connect your data center to your users – and to the cloud.