Take Five With Tom Fenton
Reasons I Think Virtualization Is Interesting
Since becoming editor in chief of Virtualization Review in October, I've discovered that, from a journalistic perspective, there's a lot to like about virtualization because the industry -- if not the baseline technology -- is new and emerging. Everything, it seems, is moving and changing faster than the ability of most of us to digest. So, stepping back, I'd like to list five things in particular that I find interesting about virtualization.
On the vendor side, it's like the wild west out there. With so many vendors shooting from the hip, and so many industry pundits reporting and spinning a never-ending fusillade of claims and counter-claims, just about everybody is suffering from flesh wounds -- some of which are self-inflicted. VMware is of course the major source of law and order. It's interesting to watch how a lot of aspiring gunslingers make sure that when they take their potshots at this sheriff, they do so from behind a second-floor window curtain above the local saloon, lest they be hogtied, put on the next stage out of town, and deprived of the protection they so desperately need in this frontier environment.
User expertise is a mixed bag. There are a lot of large users who have productively plugged into virtualization, and there are also many small and midsize businesses (SMBs) who are taking advantage of the technology. The SMB space is particularly interesting because while smaller users may have been lagging in their implementations, when they do gear up it tends to be with a vengeance -- meaning they make big investments and commitments. Still, there's a steep learning curve for a lot of companies.
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). The phenomenon known for many years as thin-client computing was once viewed as a niche-oriented technology that didn't fit in with the distributed networking ethos in place at many companies. Larry Ellison brought thin clients into the limelight when he tried to use diskless PCs as a cudgel against his hated rival, Microsoft, but the time was not yet ripe. Now it is, and thin clients -- and zero clients -- are helping reshape the face of corporate computing as they play a key role in the renovation of data centers.
Server virtualization remains the industry big dog. This is, of course, just fine with VMware, which seems to have such a stranglehold on this segment of the market that even leading competitors such as Citrix seem content to cede the high server ground to the big dog while marshalling their resources for a winner-take-all battle at the desktop. There, VMware's competitors can leverage their well-honed expertise in a VDI showdown.
The Hype. No industry can escape it, and no vendor can help it -- vendors just have to let us know in no uncertain terms that their product is unsurpassed in terms of unprecedented, cutting-edge, performance-enhancing productivity. And these days, everybody also has the smartest, most-secure cloud technology that has ever existed. All that's needed are some clouds in which to use that technology. Sometimes the whole thing gets downright silly. Take, for instance, this alleged declaration from one conference attendee: "I learned a gigabyte at TechMentor!"
What keeps your attention on the virtualization market? E-mail me at email@example.com.
Bruce Hoard is the new editor of Virtualization Review. Prior to taking this post, he was founding editor of Network World and spent 20 years as a freelance writer and editor in the IT industry.