2012 Prediction: Net Optics
As 2011 winds to an end, it is clearer than ever that computing as we once knew it is changing fundamentally. Back in 2010, a lot of excitement greeted the announcement that the number of virtual servers shipped had surpassed physical servers—if by a small margin. In 2011 that margin grew, and the predominance of the virtual is now considered by many analysts to be the de-facto reality of computing platforms.
Our main prediction for 2012 is that this margin will continue expanding to encompass an ever-wider proportion of customers across more industries. We anticipate significant virtualization in the consumer space beyond application as a service (AAAS), (i.e. SkyDrive, Dropbox, Box.net etc). The adaptation of virtualization will also drift into personal computing as a means of increasing security, reliability and recovery. Consumer products will bundle virtual implementation of browsers with self-cleaning mechanisms that can only be deployed in a virtual environment. The example of XP mode on Windows 7 is another demonstration of the virtualized PC segment.
Yet another offering likely to grow in 2012 is spillover—a service that allows enterprises to procure computing capacity which is made available on demand and in real time, to handle extreme computing needs that the existing infrastructure cannot accommodate. One prominent spillover offering is that of Amazon to online retailers during the busy holiday shopping sprees. For many enterprises, this would be the first attempt to explore public cloud offerings without having to commit.
In time, the performance of virtualized hardware emulation will so improve as to be comparable to actual physical hardware, Many growth areas exist within the mission-critical and high-frequency computing segments of the enterprise data center. Those areas have not yet virtualized due to concerns about performance and speed, but many vendors are devoting a lot of energy and brain power to overcome this hesitation.
Lastly, we believe that unified management systems will improve and go mainstream. In many organizations those tools allow an administrator to manage Hyper-V, Xen and VMware via one console (a third-party platform with APIs to the mainstream hypervisor products). This arrangement allows enterprises a mix of hypervisor platforms and vendors. Unified management is a critical piece that allows for improved control of the infrastructure and reduces the risk of downtime and noncompliance.