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Cloud Expo in New York: Virtualization Steals the Spotlight

Cloud seems to be giving virtualization a return to the spotlight

Cloud Expo on Ulitzer

At first glance, cloud computing can appear to be “virtualization taken to its logical conclusion.” After all, if the main benefit of virtualization is to consolidate data center resources and increase the speed of provisioning, then cloud is the ultimate pay-off: don’t own the resources at all and cut provisioning down to a few minutes with instant self-service gratification.

But upon further thought, and as was highly visible at the Cloud Computing Expo this week in NYC, cloud seems to be giving virtualization a return to the spotlight. A recent Gartner study noted that cloud computing is the number 2 priority for CIOs – trumped only by…virtualization. And most of the sessions at the Cloud Expo made some mention of the benefits of extending virtualization footprints within the data center and starting to turn these into internal clouds, or at least “cloud-like” environments.

So is virtualization what’s old but new again? Remember that most enterprises have adopted virtualization in some way, but are only about 20% virtualized so far. So there’s plenty of room left to penetrate, and there’s still lots of opportunity for optimization and better management. Virtualization has primarily been used for consolidation, not for optimizing workload management and self-service. And many companies have large investments in existing hardware and virtualization licenses that they’d like to use more efficiently. In many ways, cloud computing has emerged on the scene as a disruptive force while virtualization is still an evolution in progress.

As at other recent shows, the common wisdom at the Cloud Expo was that “hybrid” environments are key to the emerging IT infrastructure. Some resources will stay behind the firewall and others can be moved to outside cloud environments. Some applications may need to be split between the data center and external clouds, especially where the database needs to stay inside. In this hybrid world, some enterprises will want to focus on growing the internal virtualization footprint and starting to build capabilities for provisioning, charge-back, orchestration, role-based access, etc. This may require significant investment in additional hardware and software. It will also require enterprise IT to develop a new perspective on managing their virt investments, learning from the cloud providers about best practices and from companies like CloudSwitch about how to combine external cloud services with their own environments securely and transparently.

It’s also true that many of the major technology vendors (as well as some IT departments) have a bias towards focusing the cloud revolution on known and existing technologies. It’s still somewhat scary to think about moving things outside the data center and cloud technologies are in relatively early stages. And external cloud services (in particular public clouds) are pushing the envelope in terms of customer expectations and placing new, challenging demands on virtualization.

But virtualization will have to step up to these demands now that the cloud revolution has raised the bar. Many of the emerging capabilities will need to be at the management plane: a broad range of self-service functions, for sure, but also the ability to route workloads to the appropriate environments based on business and technical requirements, and to federate across multiple and diverse environments both on-prem and externally. So maybe cloud computing turns out to be not only the logical extension of virtualization, but the catalyst that helps virtualization move to the next level.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ellen Rubin

Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.

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