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VMworld 2010: Taking Virtual Roads To The Cloud

VMworld 2010 in San Francisco was, by any measure, a great success. The 17,000+ total attendance was up significantly compared to last year's 12,500. A crowd that size does not descend upon a conference unless there is something really compelling going on. If so, what is that? Let's start with VMware's vision of virtualization and then see why customers likely feel compelled to follow the company's path.

The conference was titled "Virtual Roads. Actual Clouds" and VMware, along with other companies, is pushing the concept that IT is on a three-phase journey. The first is the IT production phase where server virtualization is being used for the first time to consolidate physical servers with one operating and application system onto virtual servers or virtual machines (VMs) that have many instances of operating systems and applications. The obvious end result is better physical resource utilization, such as CPU utilization. The benefit of this server consolidation process is cost savings and that has proven to be advantageous to IT organizations, particularly those under cost pressures.

The second phase of the virtualization journey is business production. This is about quality of service (QoS) where the ability to be able to set and meet service level agreements (SLAs) comes into prominence. A primary benefit of achieving this stage is quality, and that is not a bad thing. However, for IT organizations, it is really about being able to make sure that their initial ventures into virtualization continue to be successful and predictable, allowing them to further extend their use of virtualization.

Frankly, IT organizations first virtualized applications where the risks that would result if poor service occurred would not be work or job threatening. However, they do not want any more exposure to risk than necessary, so improving quality of service is a desirable goal. Moreover, guaranteed responsiveness and reliability are crucial as more sensitive and business critical applications undergo the process of virtualization.

To that point, VMware reported a survey stating that while only 28 percent of applications are virtualized today, customers say that 75 percent is the goal. So a lot more remains to be done. Moreover, VMware's survey found that many customers are now in this second stage of the journey, meaning that QoS is a necessary ingredient in the continued adoption of virtualization.

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