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The Long Tail of Virtualization

Virtualization's effect on backup, cloud storage and databases.

By Alan Shimel on Thu, 11/15/12 - 5:44pm.

Virtualization has become so common in our IT infrastructure that we take it for granted. But it wasn't that long ago when VM servers were not as common in our data centers or even on our desktops. I remember in security when best practices were never to run a security function in a virtual environment for fear it could be compromised. But all of that has changed over the years. Virtualization is, well...virtually everywhere.

I was reminded this week just how long the tail is for virtualization in speaking to a few people. First of all, I was speaking to my friends at Idera (who I do some blogging for occasionally) about their new offering in server backup. One of the biggest drivers behind their new model was the abundance of virtual servers versus physical servers. Trying to figure out pricing for backing up a virtual server versus a physical server which may have many virtual servers on it is something that the entire backup industry has been struggling with. Virtualization has turned the server backup industry on its head.

Not only that, but the number of virtual servers compared to physical servers is exploding as well. It seems everyone is just putting everything in its own server. While this saves the cost of hardware for each of these servers, it does not necessarily save on the cost of managing all of these VMs, which is a whole new industry spawned by virtualization.

But it's not just backup and server related areas where virtualization is disrupting IT. I had a chance to speak with a new company that came out of stealth this week, SolidFire. SolidFire promises to revolutionize cloud performance with SSD cloud storage. Jay Prassl, the company's VP of marketing, believes that there are several things inhibiting more mission-critical apps from being moved to the cloud (and security wasn't one of them).

One of these things, according to Prassl, is mission-critical storage. More importantly, as a blog post by SolidFire points out, the key to cloud providers' success is directly tied to VM density. Running the most amount of VMs in the smallest amount of storage space is the key to greater profitability.

Next I spoke to Bruce Reading, the CEO of VoltDB, a "NewSQL" database that is optimized for today's "scaled out architectures." I will be doing a full write up on VoltDB in a later post, but for purposes of today's post the important takeaway is that running in VMware or in virtual machines in the cloud is a key piece of the equation.

In fact, anything in the cloud is directly the result of virtualization. So if the cloud is the biggest thing to happen in IT over the last few years, it is all due to virtualization. I think when we look back virtualization will be the biggest thing in computing over the last 10 years. The full impact of virtualization and its impact on so many areas of IT is still shaking out. But there will be few areas that are not directly or indirectly changed as a result of virtualization.

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