Vendor Highlight Archive

Virtualization is a mature technology today. Many organizations in the Middle East have deployed virtualization across their non mission critical environments, and as they are gaining comfort with the concepts and technologies, they are feeling confident about deploying it in mission critical areas.

Let us look at  things to come in the virtualization space in the region in 2013:

The multi-hypervisor datacenter becomes a reality

For much of the past decade, if you wanted enterprise-grade virtualization, there was one choice of vendor: VMware. Fast forward to today, and nearly 50% of x86 workloads are now virtualized. As organizations look to expand that footprint, they have begun to explore alternative virtualization platforms. Results from  industry-standard benchmark for virtualization – called SPECvirt – conducted by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) show that performance and scalability advantages no longer reside with a single company. The basic functionality that most organizations consistently use can be found in most offerings on the market today. Expect the potential for a multi-hypervisor  datacenter to become a reality in 2013. Just as some companies have found that single-vendor strategies for operating systems or hardware do not make sense for them in an agile world, the era of a single vendor for virtualization is over.

Linux and open source are driving next wave of cloud and virtualization innovation

The first wave of virtualization in most organizations was driven by Windows server consolidation. Windows servers historically were dedicated to one mission-critical application—companies would not run Exchange on the same server as their SQL Server database, for example. As such, servers were sized for peak workloads and many were underutilized. The resulting server sprawl made management difficult, increased administrative and facility costs, and left wasted resources unavailable to the organization without risking critical workloads. Consolidating these Windows servers made a lot of sense. Linux workloads, on the other hand, have been more amenable to being mixed on the same server and Linux servers have typically run at higher utilization than their Windows equivalents. 

Research indicates where Windows workloads are currently 60% virtualized, Linux workloads trail behind at 30% on average, and in some organizations they are still mostly bare metal, likely because they haven’t needed virtualization to get higher resource utilization. In 2013, we believe Linux workloads will begin representing a greater percentage of the workloads being virtualized. What do we see driving this? Organizations are now comfortable with virtualization and are beginning to institute “virtualization first” initiatives. Also, as hardware is refreshed, even two-socket 1U servers have more CPU and memory than a highly utilized bare metal Linux machine can consume. And, with the continued drive to the cloud, Linux workloads will likely be increasingly deployed both inside the virtualized datacenter as well as outside in the public cloud.

Coexistence of virtualization, bare metal, containerization

When enterprise applications were monolithic, stateful and resource-heavy, it made sense to have a virtualization strategy focused around the needs of large, stateful and resource-heavy virtual machines. But as cloud deployment models become more frequent, applications are being architected to be lightweight, stateless auto-configuration containers for CPU and memory, with the bulk of storage and network management outsourced to dedicated network and storage virtualization solutions. While some vendors have tried to convince the market that converting their entire architecture to virtual machines was the only pathway to the cloud, as we see it, bare metal workloads will continue to exist, although perhaps less prevalent than they are today, and need to be part of the cloud strategy of the organization.


And, while virtual machines are a good first step in increasing resource utilization and manageability, technologies that incorporate virtualization capability into the operating system otherwise known as “containerization” also allow virtual machines or bare-metal servers to be subdivided as well to provide application protection and more granular division of resources. In 2013, we also expect Platform as a Service (“PaaS”) platforms to become more prevalent—taking advantage of bare-metal, virtual-machine, and containerized operating systems —to allow an organization to make best use of its resources to deliver enterprise applications.

Future-proofing long-lifecycle enterprise applications

The maximum lifespan of server hardware is generally five years, and many organizations are on refresh cycles of 3–5 years, so maintaining that software lifecycle can be a challenge. Virtualization allows physical hardware to be replaced without changing the operating system container, and this can have many benefits to organizations looking to standardize their hardware lifecycles, lower physical server support costs, and take advantage of power-saving technologies built into the latest hardware.

By George DeBono, General Manager, Middle East & Africa, Red Hat

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