SAN FRANCISCO -- Data center managers looking to capitalize on opportunities for more powerful, cost-efficient data centers need to look past the company name on the box and the operating system, and pay more attention to what Gartner Inc. calls one of the most important emerging technologies in the data center -- virtualization. At the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Gartner Inc. vice president John Enck called virtualization a "megatrend," and said it doesn't really matter what kind of server you run it on, as long as you're running it. Enck insisted virtualization technology will have an enormous impact on server evolution in the next five years as a driving force for box efficiency.
"We see virtualization being extremely important across all server types … virtualization is the best tool you have right now in the market to increase efficiency and drive up the utilization of your servers," Enck said.
Virtualization has been a buzzword for many in the server market over the past few years. Part of its water cooler cache comes from the fact that many see it as a "cool technology," with a reputation as a tool that can present a host of intriguing possibilities for data centers stuck with underutilized servers. The technology gained a strong head of steam, thanks to strong showings in the testing and development realm, and is on its way to becoming a more mainstream product.
But there is a caveat. For virtualization to truly work in real-world applications, users must also focus strongly on automation, the policy-based administrative tools used to deploy virtualized instances and manage them. Strong automated tools are of critical importance for data centers seeking to optimize virtualization without creating additional headaches, and according to Enck, you can't have one without the other.
"Virtualization in and of itself is interesting, and it gives you server efficiency, but without some of the automated tools, it may actually increase your management burden. You're not reducing the number of operating systems you're supporting. In some cases you're increasing it," Enck said. "Adding automation to it is really the key … you really need both of these things together."
Enck warned attendees that if they aren't currently running virtualization technology in their data center and haven't given much thought to jumping on board, they risk missing out on getting maximum return on their platform investment. A lot of companies have yet to give virtualization a serious look, but Enck insists that the technology has become the best way to get the most out of your server.
And the time to see how it can impact your data center is now.
"Get on the wagon, get into testing … there's a big return on investment," Enck said. "If you're not looking at virtualization today -- if it's not something you have on your radar, I would strongly suggest that you put it on your radar and dedicate some lab time looking at this technology."
Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer