Virtualisation continues to gain traction among enterprises - and the benefits users gets are having the added effect of increasing awareness of the potential of the cloud services that will sit on top.
There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that unlike other disruptive technologies that produce big cost reductions during initial implementation but limited further savings, virtualisation is delivering considerable savings even in second or third generation virtual infrastructures.
Chris Wolf, infrastructure analyst for Gartner Group refers to one client that was able to justify a complete server hardware refresh because it could upgrade without having to buy any additional VMware server licences. This client moved from servers with four cores to servers with 12 cores and was able to run more virtual machines on fewer servers at a significant cost savings.
Cloud computing is at a much earlier stage of its lifecycle than virtualisation, although interest is growing. IDC's latest western European IT services forecast states that surveys of end users conducted earlier this year showed growing interest in cloud computing, while a report published by the firm in June forecast that spending on cloud services would rise to $55.5 billion by 2014, by which time it would account for 12% of all IT expenditure.
Earlier this month, Forrester Research issued a report stating that cloud computing was a sustainable, long-term IT paradigm that would fundamentally change the way technology providers engage with business customers and individual users. However, it also suggested that customers are suffering from cloud confusion as the term was applied to a wide variety of capabilities and that the potential (and limitations) of cloud computing needed to be better explained.
But any confusion that does exist is not blinding enterprises to the benefits according to Bernard Golden, CEO of consultancy Hyperstratus and CIO.com blogger. "You start with a base level of virtualisation and add more layers to get more agility or resiliency and eventually get full automation and governance and other things you associate with cloud computing," Golden explains. 'There is this notion that people don't want to build internal clouds because it is too much hassle, so they do these tactical things. If you add up enough tactics, you end up with a strategy.'
In the meantime, three quarters of respondents to a recent IDG Benchmark on high-performance IT (please note that you have to complete a short survey to access the report) indicated that they were 'investing in virtualisation solutions' and more than 40% were 'leveraging cloud technologies' to reduce CAPEX over the next 18 months.
I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.