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Virtualization's Promise And Problems

The virtual desktop and data center are here, but for this technology to continue taking over the enterprise, I/O and security issues need to be addressed.

Virtualization is all over the data center and is rapidly moving onto users' desktops. As it spreads out, it's cutting hardware upgrade costs, simplifying administration from central servers, and giving users the desktops they prefer.

To continue its sweep through the enterprise, the technology needs to overcome I/O performance problems caused by running a lot of virtual machines on one server. Once the I/O issues are solved, virtualization will be more useful for both production server and end-user applications. However, in order to function well in both these areas, virtualization security must be improved as well.

Despite looming I/O and security issues, server virtualization is well established. According to Forrester Research, it has reached a "tipping point," with 23% of businesses having at least two years experience implementing the technology, and by 2009, more than half (51%) are expected to have that level of experience. Today, 24% of servers have been virtualized, says Forrester analyst Frank Gillett, and by 2009, 45% are expected to be.

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NEXT UP: THE DESKTOP
There are several approaches to desktop virtualization, with no one emerging as the best. But with this technology, once you commit to an approach, it's hard to reverse course, so companies are moving cautiously. One thing that's spurring them on is the potential savings, which can match or exceed that in the data center, says Sumit Dhawan, senior manager for Citrix Systems' desktop product marketing group.

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