Welcome to a brand new year! 2011 was an interesting year for technology, and for virtualization in particular. We saw the continued growth in the interest and hype around “cloud computing”, a continued ambivalence and hesitation in the market around VDI, and overall a year of uncertainty about virtualization technologies and vendors. Will 2012 be any different? My predictions for virtualization technologies in 2012:
1. VDI finds its niche: For close to 5 years now, we’ve all been hearing how VDI is the “next big thing”. For a while vendor marketing machines extolled the virtues of VDI, claiming great ROI, centralized desktop management, and a great tool for migrating to Windows 7. We, the technologists, quickly figured out that things weren’t all gravy with those claims. Many Virtual Desktop pilots and PoC’s failed to vet out those claims and many desktop virtualization initiatives died on the vine, were put on hold, deprioritized, or scaled back. I think it was the technological equivalent of a market correction in finance. I think that in 2012 the technology and product maturity from major desktop virtualization vendors will be recognized and increasingly investigated and implemented by more and more organizations. The difference will be in how orgs choose to implement. It will not often be considered as a blanket solution for bringing all corporate desktops into the data center and making the technology fit all use cases. That’s what led to a lot of the dissatisfaction and cost anomalies in the first place. Instead, we’ll see mature desktop virtualization products and designs implemented in well-defined, niche use cases, which will overall increase the rate of adoption and sales for desktop virtualization and related products and services. I see a lot more 50-250 seat deployments as opposed to 5,000 seat deals going through in 2012. Smaller scale, more modular solutions like Citrix’s VDI-in-a-box and VirtualBridges, or even hosted solutions like Desktone will see a lot of interest and adoption as an easier and more cost efficient way to deliver on virtual desktop initiatives.
2. Consumerization will continue to grow: We’ll see continued interest in BYOC enablement and requests in more and more verticals for the inclusion and support of consumer devices and technologies. With the seemingly unrelenting trend of tablets and other consumer devices making their way into the enterprise, and being downright almost a basic tool of many SMB’s, there will be a greater demand upon corporate IT departments and service providers to welcome these devices in 2012. This will drive new innovation and growth for companies that help securely and seamlessly allow users to work the way they want and expect to with these devices, and both integrate and separate the “personal” and “work” applications and data.
3. Storage – bigger and faster!: I’d expect to see SSD storage arrays become more prevalent as SSD chip prices continue to fall, and the benefits of fast SSD storage is leveraged in highly virtualized environments. Storage virtualization will continue to improve and become significantly more integral to any virtualized environment with auto-tiering, thin-provisioning, etc. Cloud computing initiatives will capitalize on this as well, making the most of lots of fast spindles, dedupe, etc. to manage large arrays and volumes of data.
4. Windows 8: Well, many may not actually ADOPT Windows 8 or Windows Server 8 in 2012, but there are a number of intriguing features both in preview and in the rumor mills that will certainly get everyone at least talking about it and looking at it when it’s finally released. A number of organizations that are facing Windows Server 2003 extinction, combined with the x64 only chipsets that will be available, is going to force many folks to start planning for a migration. It will be interesting to see how the Metro UI will be adopted, as well as Microsoft’s own VDI capabilities.
5. Cloud.: I expect VMWorld, Synergy, and every other major vendor conference to be focusing on cloudbuilding, cloud adoption, etc. With that we’ll also see a proliferation of new cloud vendors in the security, integration, networking, storage, and compute technology stacks. Application development will see a heavy focus on Web 2.0 technology to more quickly enable or create applications in a SaaS or cloud-ready delivery format. Other virtualization and application delivery vendors will see a renaissance as more apps will need to be delivered from a cloud architecture, but that for whatever reason can’t quickly or easily be made natively SaaS or web ready. Citrix, Microsoft, VMWare, 2X, Ericom, and the like may all see a surge in traditional application delivery and virtualization sales and installs as a “bridge” or “enablement” technology strategy for moving from traditional client-server to cloud.