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V is for Venture...and for Virtualization

What's Becoming Huge in 2008 - But Has Been Part of Enterprise IT Since 1967?

When back in 2005 we asked our globe-girdling network of industry executives, enterprise architects, software engineers, technology evangelists, analysts, and VCs to pinpoint what they thought the Next Big Thing would be, only one respondent singled out Virtualization and that was software industry legend Mitchell Kertzman, of San Francisco-based VC firm Hummer Winblad.

Here is what Kertzman, now managing director Hummer Winblad Venture Partners but still famous for having been the founder and CEO of Powersoft, which merged with Sybase in February 1995, predicted:

“There will be more and more software products built not on traditional hardware/software platforms, but on virtualized platforms.”

Since then of course research firm IDC has stated that spending on virtualization software and services is expected to exceed $15 billion worldwide by 2011 - up from $6.5 billion in 2006. So Kertzman was right on the money!

In short, virtualization is fast becoming a key requirement for every server in the data center, enabling increased workloads in server consolidation projects, efficient software development and testing, resource management for dynamic data centers, application re-hosting and compatibility, and high-availability partitions.

But it’s not in truth the “next” big thing. IBM already introduced virtualization commercially in 1967, so it’s been around for over 40 years.

It just recently was embraced and exploited by the x86 world, with both AMD and Intel finally stepping up and putting the hardware features in to support it better, features that have existed on other platforms for years.

There are three logical virtualization layers, which Paul Giangarra, with IBM’s e-Business Solutions Services team, places historically as follows:
  1. Hardware virtualization (goes back to 1967) includes not just the processor and memory, but also storage, network, I/O
  2. Middleware virtualization (goes back to the early 80s at least)
  3. Service (SOA) virtualization, more recently formalized
And that’s before you even begin to drill down into the newer technological aspects, from well-known ones like File Virtualization and Desktop Virtualization to lesser-known and more recent developments like Embedded Virtualization, where the value proposition is similar in part to that which drives virtualization’s adoption in the enterprise space but with enormous differences driven from real-time, security, and software integration requirements.

Many of the latest and most popular flavors of IT virtualization will be discussed in greater detail in June in New York City at the 3rd International Virtualization Conference & Expo, being held in the grandeur of the historic Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan (23-24 June, 2008).

The sessions in the conference program will also look at business questions such as: How can enterprises adopt virtualization technologies to address real business problems? Is it just another consolidation technology? How are other businesses using virtualization? How does it help drive competitive advantage, business efficiency, security and compliance?

The aim is over 2 days to help delegates understand the answers to all of these questions and show them in detail what the key business drivers are for virtualization, where to expect significant benefits, and how to make sure that virtualization delivers strategic advantages to their business. It’s not just IDC that’s got the hots for virtualization, as you will be able to see and hear first-hand.
 
As for Mitchell Kertzman, he doesn’t just talk the virtualization talk, he also walks the walk. In February he joined the board of a Virtual Management startup, VKernel, as part and parcel of a $4.6M Series A investment round in which Hummer Winblad participated, leading the round together with Polaris Venture Partners.

Considering the growing popularity of virtual servers in enterprise IT shops, VKernel is likely to have a bright future, along with along with competitive start-ups like Fortisphere, ToutVirtual, Veeam, Vizioncore and Virtugo Software. And that’s just in the server virtualization market!

There’s probably never been a better time to play catch-up. Perhaps, as Conference Chair of the 3rd International Virtualization Conference & Expo, I shall have the pleasure of seeing you in New York in June?

More Stories By Jeremy Geelan

Jeremy Geelan is Chairman & CEO of the 21st Century Internet Group, Inc. and an Executive Academy Member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Formerly he was President & COO at Cloud Expo, Inc. and Conference Chair of the worldwide Cloud Expo series. He appears regularly at conferences and trade shows, speaking to technology audiences across six continents. You can follow him on twitter: @jg21.

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