Virtualization`s New Frontier

Haven’t noticed the dramatic growth of server virtualization? Clearly, you haven’t been paying attention.

Hordes of organizations have embraced the technology as they look to consolidate servers, reduce energy consumption in the data center, increase business agility and reduce costs.

But there’s life for virtualization beyond the server: The future of this technology likely will focus on client devices, and there’s also great potential in areas such as business continuity, disaster recovery and capacity planning.

“Our research has seen future-use scenarios shifting–actually expanding–so that virtualization [for] other than the widely promoted server consolidation [is] growing in prominence,” says Al Gillen, IDC’s program vice president for system software.

The server virtualization market continues to grow, although it’s maturing, according to industry experts. IDC reports that worldwide virtualization license shipments in the second quarter of 2008 rose 53 percent year over year, compared with a 72 percent year-over-year increase the previous quarter.

And worldwide virtualization software revenue grew 15 percent year over year in the second quarter, compared with 32 percent growth in the first quarter of 2008, according to IDC.

Many organizations have launched virtualization strategies, either as part of enterprise server consolidation efforts or to add the systems flexibility that server virtualization offers.

Now virtualization is moving steadily into the realm of desktop and mobile computing, as businesses look to make further cuts in IT infrastructure expenses by implementing thin clients as virtual machines to replace more costly traditional PCs.

IT cost-cutting is likely to become an even higher priority at many organizations, given the current economic climate. That might bode well for the continued growth of desktop virtualization.

Another likely trend is the use of virtualization for business continuity and disaster recovery. Efforts to provide adequate backup in the event of systems disruptions have become a high priority for many organizations, and some believe that virtualization is a natural fit for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Yet another area that seems ripe for virtualization is capacity planning and allocation. Because of the flexibility virtualization brings, organizations can allocate computing resources more flexibly to meet changing needs.

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