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Year In Review: Virtualization Hot in 2011

Virtualization was second only to cloud computing as a priority for 2,014 CIOs representing over $160 billion in corporate and public sector IT spending across 50 countries and 38 industries in Gartner's 2011 CIO Agenda survey, released in January. While IT budgets were expected to be flat for the year, these technologies were selected as the top two technologies for 2011 and are well-suited for this budget reality because they offer similar service levels at lower budget costs, stated Gartner.

A similar survey from the Enterprise Strategy Group, published in February, was a little more optimistic on spending, reporting that increased use of server virtualization was the top investment priority this year. Virtualization not only ranked No. 1 in IT priorities according to respondents to ESG’s 2011 IT Spending Intentions survey, it’s held that top spot for the last three years.

Not that virtualization (and cloud) gave vendors a license to print money, according to a Symantec survey released halfway through the year. A survey of 3,700 enterprises found that they were coming up well short of their goals for these technologies. Private storage as a service was the most disappointing of these, with a 37% gap between goals and realization. The other gaps were 26% for end point virtualization, 32% for private/hybrid computing and 33% for storage virtualization. The one exception in expectations versus reality was server virtualization, where enterprises are hitting their targets (just a 4% gap between goals and achievement).

First up in our look back at key virtualization stories in 2011 was Avaya's move to extend its Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) beyond the data center to the campus network, adding its virtualization capabilities to the company's Ethernet routing products. Analyst Zeus Kerravala said that Avaya is taking a somewhat unique approach by extending its offering beyond the data center to the campus. "Avaya's biggest challenge is proving it works and helping people understand, but, on paper, VENA is solid."

DataCore Software went after what it called the biggest barrier to widespread adoption of virtualization, namely storage, with its SANsymphony-V storage virtualization software. The company's objective is to be the logical third dimension of a virtualization strategy by combining the first two dimensions, server and desktop virtualization, with the virtualization of storage assets. This product is crucial for anyone who is thinking about virtual servers because it fixes most of the I/O and storage mapping problems that arise in server virtualization efforts but are rarely addressed by the initial server virtualization strategy, said analyst Jon Toigo, CEO and managing principal of Toigo Partners International LLC.

In March, Tintri also unveiled a storage solution that would enable organizations to virtualize as much as 80% or more of their IT infrastructures, instead of the typical 20% to 30% prevalent today. Designed to optimize performance and simplify management of VM storage at scale, VMstore features a VM-aware file system to service I/O workloads on a per-VM and per-virtual disk basis. One of the strengths of VMstore is that it's easy for a system administrator to use, said ESG's Terri McClure.

IBM made a number of virtualization announcements in March, including virtual deployment software, available as an open beta program, that also provides ongoing "image management" of the virtual environment to scale up and down the number of virtual machines as computing needs change. Big Blue also introduced Tivoli Provisioning Manager, which automates best practices for virtual data center provisioning, and Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments, which delivers backup and recovery, online database and application protection, disaster recovery, stored data reduction and archiving and retrieval capabilities.

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