10 Virtualization Vendors to Watch in 2010

Which virtualization tool vendors should be on your radar screen in 2010? Here's CIO.com's third-annual list of intriguing innovators in virtualization management, security and more.

By Kevin Fogarty
Thu, January 07, 2010

CIO — If 2008 was the year vendors turned the virtualization market into competitive chaos, then 2009 was the year end-user companies moved en masse beyond test beds and into half-scale production.

Well, maybe not half scale. More like one-fifth to one-third scale, according to industry analysts and some of the biggest virtualization vendors.

Executives at enterprises who see the potential benefits of widespread virtualization of their servers have already picked the low-hanging fruit—replacing test-and-development lab servers with virtual machines, consolidating departmental servers on VMs and virtualizing non-critical servers within the data center, says Bob Quillin, senior director of marketing for EMC's (EMC) Ionix services division.

"Companies get to 20 percent or 30 percent virtualized and then slow down," he says. "Once you get the test/dev, tier-2 and tier-3 apps virtualized, there are a lot of challenges about how to virtualize tier-1 apps. You have to have confidence you can deliver the same level of service, or you lose line-of-site control as the app goes through virtualization, and the infrastructure team has to deal with an increased rate of change."

[ For timely virtualization news and expert advice on strategy, see CIO.com's Virtualization Drilldown section. ]

Dealing with the fluid movement of a particular application from one server or VM to another—which Quillin says his customers jokingly refer to as "VMotion sickness"—is an organizational problem, as are "line of sight" limitations caused by management applications' ability to monitor a physical server's activity in detail, but not the VM's. Ionix and VMware (VMW) are working on services and management software to improve those things, but Citrix Systems (CTXS) and partner Microsoft (MSFT) think the problem isn't visibility -- it's recoverability, according to Biki Malik, senior director of product marketing at Citrix. (Citrix has been pushing a new push-button disaster-recovery application called StorageLink Site Recovery.)

Customers, of course, worry about both types of control and recovery, and most don't have nearly the range of tools they need to feel comfortable with the number and variety of applications they're hoping to virtualize, according to Gordon Haff, infrastructure and enterprise computing analyst at Illuminata.

"The big guys—VMware, Microsoft, Citrix—are all moving pretty quickly, so they're clearly on the list of companies to keep an eye on," Haff says. "The foundation stuff is primarily their domain. But beyond that, in things like compliance, I/O virtualization, security, stuff like KVM management, some of the smaller guys are pretty interesting."

"Anybody who can fill the gaps the big guys don't in helping virtualization admins provision and control their infrastructure is worth a look," adds Mark Bowker, virtualization specialist at Enterprise Strategy Group. "The real missing piece, though, is the ability to optimize performance across both physical and virtual assets."

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