Virtualization is (my vote) the top buzzword used in 2007 so far. I am both sick of the headlines and jealous that I don't get to experiment with it as much as I would like. I have read good and bad about it and either way, it is here to stay. It looks to be a main topic at the Next Generation Data Center conference and VMWorld is coming up soon (BTW: Intel just recently invested $218.5 million in VMWare )
Besides satisfying my own curiosity on virtualization, I was asked a while back exactly what it is. With all that I have seen and as I have watched virtualization evolve, it is a pretty vague term anymore. Virtualization can apply to a number of things and technoloiges. I follow Grid technologies as well, and there is often some overlap and/or confusion with Virtualization. So... for myself, the person that asked what it was, and for anyone else interested, here is my run down of defining virtualization:
Since this is a data center blog, let's start there. One of the first articles that prompted this post was news of a patent. eGenera claims it is has received a patent for an all-in-one N+1 tiered disaster recovery solution. It provides a hardware-neutral Disaster Recovery solution that encapsulates your entire data center via grid and virtualization technologies. Joe Foran's article here goes on to explain why this is silly and not patent-worthy.
Intel launched its Data Center Virutalization project in order to enable transparent use of resources worldwide. They claim that since launching the program they have achieved 11% increase in server utilization and saved $77 million through cost avoidance. Check out the article here - click on contents--page 36
Server (or Operating System) Virtualization
When most people hear the term virtualization they most likely think of server virtualization. According to searchservervirtualization.com, server virtualization is "the masking of server resources, including the number and identity of individual physical servers, processors, and operating systems, from server users." Players in this market are many, although dominated by VMWare , Microsoft ,and Xen. There are also a ton of blogs on the topic, but I read VMBlog and gridvm.org (because I LOVE Grid technology as well).
Virtualization of storage can of course be twisted to mean what the vendor wants it to, but it's basically pooling physical storage and managing it from a central console. You can read more in the Wikipedia article here. One of my favorite companies to watch here isn't really in the 'virtualization' market, although they fit the description. Cleversafe is a really cool idea that takes storage from all over the world, splits it into slices and allows you to have your data (virutally) everywhere at once. They call it "Dispersed Storage Grids". I probably am not doing it justice, so I would highly recommend checking out the details on their site .
It seems easy to think of this as the same thing as storage virtualization. The best way that "I" can describe file virtualization is to explain the vendors. EMC's Rainfinity operates at the CIFS and NFS file protocol level. Click here for more info on Rainfinity (not for the weak of budget). Netapp bought Spinnaker many years ago and now has their Virtual File Manager solution, that well....does everything. Check it out here for a better explanation than I can give it. I imagine there are many others in the market; check out this Internet News article for more information.
I had heard 'some' about application virtualization, but really started getting interested in it when I saw Softricity. They have since been bought by Microsoft and become "Softgrid Application Virtualization". http://www.softricity.com/ Again, I probably can't describe it perfectly, so check out their site. It basically delivers applications for users without ever installing them...where ever they are. It's an on-demand system that doesn't care what PC the user is on and from a system administration aspect makes a ton of management effecencies. My favorite player in this market however is Data Synapse. I ran across Data Synapse when looking at grid solutions. Gartner has listed them in the 'real-time infrastructure' market. Seriously cool stuff.
I won't go into this area too much - it's basically things like VMWare player, Parallels, and then other things like a Citrix environment. The Virtual Machine market has a lot of options
Interesting......check out Peter Christy's blog
Virtual Worlds (I had to)
Business Week has a nice article on the Virtual Web. From my perspective, the only one in this market is Second Life (I've been a member for some time now).
Well, I hope my ramblings have helped someone other than myself. Virtualization is certainly an interesting and multi-faceted technology. Finally - here are some items I have read that I found interesting on the topic: