TechEd 2007: Virtualisation moves IT from physical to logical

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Virtualisation is maturing rapidly and will radically change the way firms deploy and manage IT services, according to Microsoft pundits at the TechEd IT Forum 2007 in Barcelona..

The technology is set to grow across businesses, IT systems and applications, according to Microsoft, which recently announced its own Hyper-V virtualisation platform.

Zane Adam, director of product marketing at Microsoft's Windows Server Division, said: " Consolidation is the first wave of virtualisation, but the technology will drive a fundamental change from the physical to the logical."

Mike Neil, general manager of system centre and virtualisation at Microsoft, explained that IT administrators and managers will have to adopt a more holistic view of the systems under their control.

"Administrators will have to move from knowing how to manage machines to knowing how to manage systems," he said.

The notion of physical machines and separated roles and functions will be replaced by a logical set of resources and requirements which can be dynamically managed, monitored and allocated as a single entity.

Adam explained that for virtualisation to succeed the industry needs to " move in co-ordination" and that Microsoft "has the strength and ecosystem to move the industry with us".

Neil and Adam believe that the current virtualisation layer will be rapidly commoditised to create a solid foundation to move into the management arena as the need to dynamically manage applications and workloads continues to grow.

As adoption of virtualisation increases and expands from the server side to the application, presentation and client levels, companies will have to develop best practices to align networking and applications with virtualisation to meet business requirements.

Adam added that with fewer than five percent of servers virtualised today there is still a lot of "green field to expand into" and that there is some way to go to simplify the process and encourage companies to adopt the technology and reap the benefits.

Interoperability between virtualisation platforms is also vital to ensure that customers are not locked in to one product or vendor when they decide to deploy the technology.

Rene Millman, a senior research analyst at Gartner, said: " Microsoft has a very good idea, but has not presented it optimally. The way forward is to present this in terms of logical machines rather than physical machines.

"Companies need to ask how easy it is to manage, and what they need to learn to be able to do it.

"Rather than having two separate groups managing the physical and virtual aspects, companies need one team to manage the physical and virtual servers together.

"They also need to be able to manage these environments as simply as you would manage a single physical machine."
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