disclosure: this post was written with the help of external contributors under the supervision of Edwige Cottigny and the Orange Business Internet and Digital media team
Virtualisation on the rise
The results of the much-anticipated, first-ever Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) survey have been released. The results offer unique insight into the future of digital infrastructure from some of the most knowledgeable IT experts in the world. The survey gathered thoughts from 970 CCIE holders in 79 countries and included employees from Fortune 500 companies as well as SMEs in a wide range of industries.
The next big thing
The results are telling. More than 40% of respondents believe that virtualisation was one of the biggest trends over the past 5 years, and 67% predict that virtualisation will be the top networking investment in the next 5 years.
According to the 2010 CCIE White Paper, this rapidly growing trend explains a significant shift in how the IT function operates. While the role of the network engineer has evolved into that of a system architect, traditional lines between security, servers/systems, and networks are less clear due to virtualisation's rise.
It's true that virtualisation has the potential to create network complexity and new management challenges. It is also essential that businesses develop a comprehensive implementation strategy and involve network architects--not just network engineers--in the process if they hope to realise all of the benefits that the technology has to offer.
Why should companies virtualise?
Cisco's report underlines the trend that thought leaders have predicted: virtualisation is the way forward. At the very least, it saves businesses time, money and space. In the long run, it can be the source of heightened competitive advantage through simplified IT management and more efficient operations.
The benefits can vary depending on the specific system adopted, but can include:
- server optimisation and consolidation,
- improved data centre resiliency and security,
- reduction in planned downtime,
- ability to clone complex configurations,
- flexibility to re-route workloads in response to fluctuations in computing demand throughout the day,
- ability to "hot-add" memory and CPU resources during peak load times.
Plus, it's a greener way to work, an aspect that is gaining increasing importance in today's business world. Virtualisation requires less physical equipment, which translates into lower energy consumption now (i.e., for server operation and cooling) and less e-waste in the future.
The democratisation of virtualisation
Virtualisation is not a particularly new idea, but what's changing is who's using it. In the past, the technology was almost exclusively the domain of large companies, but today more and more SMEs are jumping on board. The availability of increasingly powerful hardware at lower prices has made virtualisation a cost-effective investment even for smaller companies without vast data centres.
As Christian Perry of Processor.com pointed out last autumn in Virtualization Vitals: Peeling Back The Layers Of Virtualization's Seemingly Endless Data Center Benefits, "virtualisation can help data centres tap into levels of fault tolerance previously enjoyed only by huge organisations."
So where do we stand today? In a more recent article for Blade Systems Insight, Perry notes that smaller companies still tend to approach virtualisation in an "on-off or ad-hoc manner". The take-up rate among SMEs is concentrated in technology-focused businesses and remains considerably lower than among large companies. If the current trend toward commoditisation of virtualisation continues, however, it seems likely that we'll see more and more SMEs getting in on the action.
Within the digital team of Orange Business, I lead content and special projects.