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Forecasting Conditions for the 2011 Data Center
Accurate forecasts in this industry should prompt us to look at the future more critically

They say you can't predict the weather. Like so many clichés, however, this one isn't quite true. Meteorologists have a host of tools at their fingertips that help them recognize, track and analyze weather patterns in order to support predictions that are often accurate, or at least reasonably close. The same is true in the computing industry, where patterns emerge in data centers and enterprises much as cloud formations become apparent in the skies. With a careful eye and extensive knowledge informed by years of experience and frequent conversations with frontline IT professionals, we can predict future trends with a relatively high degree of accuracy. The beginning of a new decade is an opportune moment in which to forecast where virtualization - the primary IT initiative of our time - will encounter stormy weather and where it might be welcomed by clear skies.

The Evolving Private Cloud Story
In 2011, enterprises will face the challenge of figuring out the beginning, middle and end of their internal private cloud stories. Mobility between private and public clouds is still too big of a leap for most, as it is fraught with security, regulatory, export and overall complexity that only highly controlled and automated environments can even contemplate. The public cloud will continue to garner lots of hype, but the time and money in 2011 will be spent on the nuts and bolts of private cloud implementation and management.

That will include a crystallizing understanding that piecemeal management of virtual machines is insufficient for dealing with the complexity of the modern data center. In the immediate future, more enterprises will seek the means to support end-to-end lifecycle management that also delivers capacity and performance control, end-user self-service, as well as much sought after simplicity.

Patience Pays Off in Virtualization
The coming year will be an important one for Hyper-V. This is a slow-but-steady forecast, one based on the understanding that Microsoft clearly has more work to do with Hyper-V before it can compete with VMware technologically. However, Microsoft is certainly heading in the right direction, and data centers will benefit from the additional choices this technology will deliver to the market. In the meantime, we should remember the browser wars of the past as a predictive lesson in Microsoft's willingness to invest heavily in Hyper-V, while keeping in mind that this time the technology is considerably more complicated.

Patience here will literally pay off, as this competition represents important potential cost savings and sole-source avoidance for enterprises. In fact, at VMware Partner Exchange last week it was VMware who admitted that Microsoft Hyper-V and SCVMM 2012 are effectively equivalent to VMware VI3. Although VI3 is now a four-year-old VMware technology, it was still a pretty solid virtualization solution. In the coming year, we should see multi-hypervisor deployments gaining ground in both midsize and large organizations.

Administrators Demand Turnkey Automation
We are going to see significant growth in 2011 in the area of virtualization management. Most deployments have become so complex and so susceptible to sprawl and stall that administrators have little choice but to stand up and demand some kind of automation solution.

VM lifecycle management and capacity planning will intensify as critical areas of learning for those continuing their adoption of virtualization. Solutions that integrate and automate these disciplines will be required - even in organizations that traditionally have attached little value to automation tools. This heightened demand for automation will be driven by two key factors: the accelerated growth and churn in virtualization and budget constraints that will cause the number of administrators to stay the same.

Automation alone won't cut it, however. IT staffers will look for solutions that do the job right out-of-the-box. Only the largest enterprises with significant professional services budget dollars can consume and maintain large and involved frameworks. The majority of players in the market will require technology that powers up and starts working immediately, delivering turnkey automation built upon templates that are based on proven industry best practices.

A Forecast for the Industry
There is no mystery in the above predictions. There are no weathervanes, no satellite pictures, no tracking of fronts or low-pressure systems. We can map what is happening in the virtual data center simply by talking to the administrators in charge - the IT professionals who are weighing the pros and cons of the cloud, waiting for new hypervisor choices, and clamoring for VM lifecycle management that will enable them to do their jobs better and fulfill the promise of virtualized environments.

Accurate forecasts in this industry don't spark us to don raincoats or sunglasses or gloves, but they should prompt us to look at the future more critically. Enterprise decision makers can make informed estimates of what's coming next and use them to shape strategy, goals and initiatives in the virtual data center of 2011.

About Mark Jamensky
Mark Jamensky is a technology leader with 25 years of experience delivering innovative solutions to the market. He currently serves as executive vice president of Products at Embotics, where he has spent more than 10 years building industry leading virtualization, cloud, and self-service management solutions for enterprise and service provider data centers that are delivering innovative private and public cloud services.

He is passionate about fostering an environment of autonomy, mastery, and purpose, and by leveraging Agile methodologies, he has a proven track record of building successful engineering teams and companies in the software and hardware development fields. In addition to R&D leadership, Mark’s deliverables continue to broaden with responsibilities for product management, operations, and support, as well as valuable contributions to sales and marketing.

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