Mental Ward

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Looking Back At Issue No. 1: That's a Wrap

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It's been a fun trip down virtual memory lane, as I've strolled through the pages of Virtualization Review's very first issue, from April 2008. As I look back, it's been fascinating to see where our predictions about the future were right and where they were wrong, and how very much things have changed in the seven-plus years since we began publishing.

I'm not sure that anyone at that point saw the rise of software-defined this, that and the other. Things like storage virtualization had already been birthed, so even though it's changed a lot, it's not like it was completely unexpected. But software-defined networking; well, that was something that turned me upside down like a theme park ride.

I admit also that I didn't see the rise of hyperconverged appliances. I assumed that datacenters would, for the most part, remain the way they were back in the days when I worked in a world-class datacenter at E.W. Scripps: distinct silos for everything, including servers, networks and storage. It's a testament to the never-ending innovation in this space that such things have occurred in a (relatively) short amount of time.

In terms of vendors, they haven't changed all that much: VMware still leads the pack, while Microsoft and Citrix are still major presences (although they've reversed positions from what I expected in 2008: I thought Microsoft wouldn't make much headway with Hyper-V, and that XenServer would take off). HP, Dell, Oracle, Red Hat, SUSE and the like are still doing cool things and staying highly relevant. Contraction has occurred, especially in the storage space, which was to be expected.

KVM has done really well, better than I expected way back when. Xen has found its niche, but not gone much beyond it, while ESXi has continued its dominance and Hyper-V has done extremely well. As for hypervisors, that's about it. Though there are others out there, they're mostly white noise.

In terms of disappointments, I'll say that virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) hasn't had anywhere near the impact I thought it would by now. It certainly is important in many settings, but hasn't become ubiquitous like numerous vendors predicted. This doesn't fall under the heading of breaking news, but it's still instructive -- remember to keep your perspective when you're in the middle of the hype machine.

Cloud Rising
Finally, the big thing we missed in issue No.1 is cloud computing. It certainly was known in 2008, although at the time I wondered if it would ever go mainstream. As everyone reading this knows, it's done that in a big way. In fact, it's switched places with VDI: many thought VDI would be the big deal by 2015, and cloud computing would be a solid niche technology, but no more. I was one of those (boy, has this been a humbling article to write).

Now, of course, cloud computing is changing the industry -- in much the same way, in fact, that virtualization did, lo these many years ago. I don't see its momentum slowing any time soon, although it will eventually reach that point. In the meantime, every company has to figure out a strategy for using it, and there are tons of vendors out there to help them with those decisions.

Stayin' Alive
Looking back, I'd call issue No. 1 a big success. Not because we were right about everything; far from it. Its success lies in the fact that it marked the entry of something brand new: the only print publication covering virtualization as an industry. There were Web sites, yes; plenty of those (as there still are, of course). But it was the era of contraction in the magazine business, and IT publications were especially at risk, because so much of the audience was online. In fact, many of the competitors in my company's specialized field of business-to-business IT publications have gone out of print, and it's been a sad thing to see. But Virtualization Review has survived as both an online and print publication (although it's not published as regularly as it used to be).

Being first at something is way cool, which is why Issue No. 1 stands out in my mind so clearly. How often do you get to be part of a pioneering effort? Well, I was when issue No. 1 rolled off the presses. I was honored to be a part of it then, and I'm still honored to be a part of it now.

Posted by Keith Ward on 07/20/2015 at 9:52 AM


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