We may be so efficient now that server
virtualization will see little growth in 2010
artner says that workloads running on
virtual machines will increase significantly in 2010. I’m not so sure. I think
that most industries are already highly
efficient, and efficiency is really the raison d’être for
server virtualization. I predict that server virtualization will hold steady—if not sluggish—next year.
tant virtualization advances of the year: VMware’s
vSphere 4 and Cisco’s Unified Computing System.
As reported by my e WEEK news colleague Jeffrey
Burt, Gartner analysts at the Gartner Symposium/
ITxpo in October released a survey that said, “Only
16 percent of current IT workloads are running
on virtual machines. However, that’s expected to
increase to 50 percent by the end of 2012, and use
of VMs will grow most quickly among small and
Backing my theory is the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, which showed that both shipments and revenues for x86-based servers fell
sharply in 2009. Economic instability was the main
reason cited for the decline. Server virtualization
was also mentioned as a possible reason, with
some IT managers saying they had delayed server
spending in anticipation of buying AMD Instanbul
(basically a six-core Shanghai-class Opteron processor) and Nehalem-equipped server hardware. But
this was only an “also ran” reason for the overall
slowdown in server shipments.
There were important virtualization developments in
2009 that may account for the
Gartner survey results and
that also counter my “sluggish
‘I PREDICT THAT SERVER
WILL HOLD STEADY
I could be proven wrong—
and would be happy if I
were—if two big releases
this year bear fruit next year:
VMware’s vSphere 4 and
Microsoft’s Windows Server
2008 R2 with Hyper-V.
Intel and AMD created
new server processors that
were important hardware advancements for virtualization. The two companies also recently settled a
lawsuit that will likely smooth server virtualization
deployments: It’s possible that in the not-too-distant
future, IT managers won’t have to make a choice
between AMD and Intel to get the advanced high-performance features offered by hypervisor platforms.
And VMware, Microsoft and a host of open-source-based hypervisor platforms released important new
versions of their wares.
VMware products are
widely deployed, and the
benefits that vSphere brings are compelling enough
to warrant consideration in any VMware (or other)
shop. And Microsoft’s Hyper-V release in Windows
Server 2008 R2 is nothing to sniff at. For organizations that can use the included virtualization
capability provided by Microsoft’s operating system,
there is every reason to believe that more server
virtualization projects will be attempted in 2010.
The big hardware change in 2009 was Intel’s
shipment of the Xeon 5500 family of Nehalem processors. AMD Opteron processors have had Hyper-transport and a more direct memory controller for
years. Similar capabilities were released in the Intel
Nehalem processors that make servers based on this
technology significantly more friendly to virtualization tools and also much more energy-efficient.
Virtualization for almost all application workloads is inevitable. Some of that will happen in the
cloud, especially as gloomy business conditions
make stable, predictable (and never-ending) cloud
rental options appealing. Some will happen on virtual machines hosted in your own data center.
I’m interested to see if the inexorable drive for
efficiency will be as intense as predicted, especially
in a year in which we will be recovering from one of
the worst recessions in our country’s history. ´
And the beefed-up, power-conserving capabilities
built into the Intel Xeon 5500 processors put the
Nehalem family at the center of two of the most impor-
Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached