Take Five With Tom Fenton

Top 5 Virtualization Events of 2016

A lot happened in the past year. Here are five highlights.

Now that the 2016 calendar has come to a close, I took some time to reflect back on what I think the top 5 events of last year, and how they affected -- or will affect -- the virtualized datacenter. 

1. SoftBank Acquires ARM for $32 Billion
In July 2016, Japanese telecom provider SoftBank jumped into the hardware world feet first when they bought ARM for $32 billion. ARM is best known for designing chips and licensing them to phone makers like Samsung and Apple; $15 billion in ARM-designed chips shipped in 2015. This acquisition fits into the virtualization realm, as it has been reported that ARM is currently working with the major virtualization vendors on using their software to virtualize ARM processors on ARM-based servers.

2. Violin Memory Is Delisted By the NYSE
Violin Memory was an early pioneer of using flash memory to decrease latency and increase the number of IOPS for the storage in a server, which was a huge boon to servers that ran virtualized workloads. I was blown away the first time I saw what a system running Violin Memory could do. But the company had a series of missteps, and in 2016 its market cap fell below $15 million, causing it to become delisted from the NYSE.  Violin Memory is a classic case study in how the fortunes of a company quickly shift in the fast-paced world. (Editor's note: on Dec. 14, 2016, Violin Memory filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection).

3. Containers Go Mainstream
VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat and other companies know that containers are hot and in demand; in 2016 all of them introduced products to help create, deploy and manage containers. Attendance at Kubecon, the de facto container conference, doubled in 2016 over 2015, and they expect to see three times as many attendees at their 2017 conference. For these reasons, it's safe to say that people are interested in container technology and companies are sprouting up to help those people out with innovative container-related technologies and products. I predict that 2017 will be the year that many of the smaller, more niche-focused container companies will be acquired by larger, more established enterprises.

4. Public Cloud Explodes
The public cloud is having a major growth spurt, and the major public cloud providers (AWS, Microsoft and Google) made more than $11 billion selling cloud-based compute and storage, and many experts predict a growth rate of 20 percent for the next few years. With its high growth rate, the cloud will become a battleground for the major vendors in the industry.

5. The Completion of the Dell/EMC and VMware Merger
Dell was founded 32 years ago by a college student in his dorm room, EMC was founded 37 years by two businessmen with engineering degrees, and VMware was founded 17 years ago by five academics. In 2016, the company that was founded by the college student, Michael Dell, consolidated the three companies into one, becoming Dell Technologies. This new company is now the largest provider of storage technology, the second largest server vendor, and the leader in the virtualization industry. Dell Technologies is one of the few true end-to-end datacenter companies. It will be interesting to see how this merger will affect the datacenter in the future.

About the Author

Tom Fenton has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 30 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 20 years focusing on virtualization and storage. He currently works as a Technical Marketing Manager for ControlUp. He previously worked at VMware in Staff and Senior level positions. He has also worked as a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, where he headed the Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on X @vDoppler.


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