|Asia-Pacific II 2009
|Virtualization trends in ICT for business
|VMware Asia Pacific
Andrew Dutton is the General Manager of VMware’s Asia Pacific and Japan region; he is responsible for strategic planning, business development, sales, channels, services, finance and marketing. Mr Dutton brings more than 27 years of global management and sales experience in various industries, including IT and financial services. Prior to VMware, Mr Dutton was Computer Associates’ (CA) Senior Vice President and General Manager of International Business, responsible for the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) regions. Mr Dutton also served as Senior Vice President and General Manager for BEA Systems EMEA. Earlier, Mr Dutton held a number of senior management positions at IBM including as Vice President and General Manager for IBM’s Asia Pacific Software Group. Mr Dutton was a member of IBM’s Senior Management Group. Mr Dutton’s earlier posts included Chief Financial Officer and Director of Information Technology for Australia’s Norwich Union Financial Services Group, and Group Manager of Business Development for Visa International’s Asia Pacific region. Andrew Dutton holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Sydney University.
Virtual computing refers to computing services available when and where needed, on whatever scale is called for. Companies can make all their computing resources throughout the world virtually available to their staff no matter where located. Cloud computing is virtual computing available through the Internet for a wide variety of applications. Users can access their ‘own’ virtual desktop – even on a smartphone – wherever they are, and through it, get whatever secure storage or high-end application processing facilities they need.
As the woes of the world economy extend into 2009, governments and businesses will be increasingly forced to do more with less. This is one of the key value propositions of virtualization, and as a result, virtualization is increasingly at the top of the list of strategic priorities for information technology (IT) and communications organisations worldwide. Many begin their virtualization efforts with server consolidation to reduce hardware power, cooling, and facilities expenses. Now, organizations are continuing virtualization with server consolidation and extend its use to the desktop, storage and networking areas, to provide more flexible and economical business continuity, security, and application of service level agreements. Here are the ten top trends in virtualization that I believe are worth watching out for in 2009: Virtualization of the enterprise desktop The desktop dilemma – deciding whether to give employees thick or thin clients – will begin to be resolved in 2009. Thick clients, including fully loaded personal computers (PCs) and laptops, provide employees with a rich set of applications, but applications distributed across thousands of PCs that must be individually provisioned, updated, patched and secured are a challenge to manage. Thin clients are cheaper, more secure, and more cost-effective to manage, but traditionally have not been able to deliver the richness, flexibility, or compatibility of thick clients. Most businesses provide thin clients only for employees, such as call centre staff, who can be productive in this more restrictive environment. New virtualization-based approaches solve this dilemma by delivering rich, personalized virtual desktops to any device, thick or thin, but simplify management by hosting virtual desktops in the data centre. Virtualization is the essential for efficient, manageable desktops in an increasingly mobile world. In addition, better remote display protocols and use of the local machine’s computing resources create a better user experience, and the combination of online and offline modes will let employees work while travelling or when without higher-speed network access. Virtualization-aware storage Storage is critical to the virtual data centre; advances in virtual storage will dramatically increase the flexibility, speed, resiliency and efficiency of virtual data centres in 2009. New virtual storage solutions automate handoffs between the virtualization platform and the storage infrastructure, simplify storage operations and maximize efficient use of storage infrastructure. We expect solutions that offer native array support for common storage operations on virtual machines such as replication and migration, thin provisioning and de-duplication capabilities to optimize storage usage – especially important for desktops and virtual storage arrays solutions. High-end application virtualization A combination of hardware and software advances will remove performance concerns regarding the highest-end, most mission-critical, applications in virtual environments. New chip advances such as Intel Extended Page Tables (EPT) and AMD Rapid Virtualization Indexing (RVI) – are particularly helpful for memory-intensive applications and high-performance computing. In addition, the ability to purchase applications as pre-packaged virtual machines, and improvements in the licensing and support policies offered by Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), will continue to drive the trend towards application virtualization. Virtualization of multiple data centres Increasingly, global companies will dynamically virtualise their computing capacity across multiple data centres. British Telecom (BT), for example, is building a next-generation, cloud computing-ready infrastructure that pools business processes, applications, IT infrastructure, user access, and the network in a self-healing, automated, service-oriented infrastructure with integrated service-level management and built-in business continuity. The system provides dynamic geo-balancing across BT’s data centres in North America, South America, the UK, Europe, Asia and Australasia. On the user level, it enables virtual desktops to follow users as they travel. On the enterprise level, it enables workloads to be automatically redistributed to meet capacity needs and take advantage of eco-friendly locations where electricity can be tapped at much lower costs. This level of data centre orchestration will become increasingly common, driven at first by the disaster recovery needs and the need to instantly migrate workloads from one site to another in the event of a failure. We are now seeing the first signs of follow-the-sun virtual machine migration and orchestrated use of secondary and off-premise data centres for peak loads. This will naturally ramp up to enable cloud computing services that can import and export industry-standard virtual machines to provide additional computing capacity on short notice. Virtualization-aware networking Major network and virtualisation software vendors are working together to deliver joint data centre solutions that improve the scalability and operational control of virtual environments. Distributed virtual software switches will be an integrated option in this sort of infrastructure. In parallel, companies are collaborating to integrate virtual desktop solutions with application delivery networking solutions to improve the performance of virtual desktops delivered across wide-area networks (WANs). Networking vendors are now optimizing for virtualization network traffic, remote display protocols are becoming more effective, and networking management tools will monitor and manage at the virtual machine-level. Virtualization in smartphones The benefits of virtualization will extend to mobile phones. Ultra-thin hypervisors will provide a thin layer of mobile phone embedded software optimized to run efficiently on low-power, memory-constrained, mobile phones. Hypervisors will decouple applications and data from the underlying hardware; this will help handset vendors accelerate time to market and pave the way for innovative applications and services. Today, handset vendors spend significant time and effort getting new phones to market due to the use of multiple chipsets, operating systems, and device drivers across their product families. Today, the same software stack cannot be used in all phones; it must be ported separately for each platform. Virtualization will enable vendors to deploy the same software stack on a wide variety of phones regardless of the hardware. Virtualization for mobile phones will also enable end users to run separate profiles for personal use and for work on the same phone. This will improve both the security and cost-effectiveness of mobile phones as communication and computing devices. Virtualization-focused security McAfee, Symantec, and Trend Micro recently demonstrated new virtualization-focused security solutions, leading a growing trend. Traditional firewall, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), and virus detection offerings are now shipping as virtual machines. Customers are increasingly utilizing trusted platform modules (TPMs) to attest to embedded hypervisors. There are now application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow third-party products provide security for virtual machines by deploying a single instance of an antivirus application per physical host – instead of one per virtual server – and this is driving security advances for virtualized environments. Management tools for virtual data centres Today, there are management tools for a wide range of virtualization management operations, including virtual machine discovery and configuration management, monitoring, performance management, provisioning, and resource management. These products – combined with standardized, hardware-independent virtual machine containers that can be easily changed, moved and manipulated – have helped some virtualization users automate many IT processes and increase data centre management productivity by two to three times compared to physical environments. Going forward, additional APIs and integration technologies (e.g., user interface plug-in architectures) that facilitate the integration of management functions into virtualization platforms will enable end-to-end management processes spanning heterogeneous data centre environments, a wide variety of application stacks, and physical and virtual use cases. This is coming quickly, as leaders such as BMC, CA, HP and IBM have all announced such products. Green data centres drive virtualization Power and cooling are critical data centre concerns. “Upward-spiraling infrastructure demands and increasing energy costs mean that the energy proportion of IT costs could double by 2012,” said a recent Gartner research report (“U.S. Data Centers: The Calm Before the Storm,” 25 September 2007). “By 2011, more than 70 per cent of U.S. enterprise data centers will face tangible disruptions related to floor space, energy consumption and/or costs”. Server consolidation, through virtualization, is one of the best ways to reduce power usage, as well as greenhouse gas emissions. Many users are able to run 15 or more virtual machines on a single server, thus increasing the utilization of servers from 10-15 per cent (the average utilization rate for non-virtualized servers) to 70-80 per cent. With fewer physical servers, users save 70-90 per cent in energy consumption. This means greener IT, cutting data centre power consumption by 70-90 per cent and radically reducing CO2 emissions. Each server removed saves around 7,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of power and eliminates four tons of CO2, which is equivalent to taking 1.5 cars off the road or planting 55 trees in a year. Going forward, customers will leverage virtualization for even greater power savings through dynamic management of resources. When a cluster of virtual machines needs fewer resources, distributed power management (DPM) features consolidate workloads and puts hosts in standby mode to reduce power consumption. When workloads increase resource requirements, DPM brings powered-down hosts back online to ensure service levels are met. Virtualisation and the cloud The IT industry is moving toward a vision of cloud computing, and virtualization is the infrastructure on which it is being built. Enterprise data centres are starting to evolve into highly automated private clouds. The pooling of computer resources on a virtualization platform essentially turns the pooled resources into a single, giant computer. Idle computing capacity can be sold on the Internet to public clouds or cloud services providers, or access to extra computing capacity can be outsourced as needed on a just-in-time basis. Standards are the key to the success of public clouds; they provide compatibility at the virtual machine layer for easier entry and exit from the cloud, and standards make it possible to move applications in and out of public clouds without modification. In 2009, these advances will accelerate to enable companies both large and small to safely tap computer capacity inside and outside their firewalls – how they want, when they want, and as much as they want – to ensure quality of service for any application they want to run, internally or as an outsourced service, when additional capacity is required.