VMware users at small and medium-sized businesses and enterprise IT shops saw plenty of changes in 2012, from the bumpy rise of vSphere single sign-on to a cloud computing push. And 2013 is sure to usher in more changes -- namely, SMB virtualization. Here are the virtualization trends experts at SearchVMware expect to see over the course of 2013.
VMware will likely release vCloud Suite 6 around July, including vSphere and vCloud Director 6. While physical-to-virtual (P2V) consolidation -- with VMware as the primary hypervisor -- will continue in 2013, we will not see any huge jump to cloud computing. VMware vCloud Director is still a complex proposition for most companies. Adoption of vCloud Director will ramp up slightly, but without a big spike.
Users always have an eye out for hypervisor choices that are simple to implement, cost-effective and easy to manage. Because of this, more small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that are just beginning to virtualize will adopt Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. There won't be huge numbers of users jumping from vSphere to Hyper-V, however.
Large enterprises with VMware enterprise license agreements will be interested in hypervisor tiering, which would reduce their VMware license costs by using multiple hypervisors.
Sander van Vugt
While VMware grew in 2012, some virtualization alternatives quickly matured, giving customers more choices. VMware's impressive growth over the last decade could be slowing down. New products and updates such as vSphere 5.1 will see relatively slow adoption in 2013. For those IT shops already on an existing VMware infrastructure, there's no reason not to upgrade to vSphere 5.1 in 2013. For new virtualization projects, you have more of a choice. Why would a 100% Microsoft shop start their virtualization on VMware, when Hyper-V is included in the operating system (OS) they already have?
Large data centers already capitalize on the benefits of virtualization, but many small businesses are either unaware of how virtualization can benefit them or are intimidated by its complexity. The ongoing trend of virtualizing SMB environments should continue. Large data center growth will slow down in 2013 and beyond because virtualization has already been the gold standard for many years in that space.
I recently spoke with the office manager of a very small business co-located with my company. When I told him I was involved with server virtualization to save the company money, he had no idea what I meant, but he said that it sounded complicated. SMBs like his would likely benefit from virtualization if it were presented in a simple way that would not distract attention from the company's core business. If VMware is going to make a push into the microbusiness market, SMB managers need to see clearly how virtualization saves costs and energy, and improves redundancy.
Let's acknowledge the reality of Microsoft's entry into the virtualization space with the fully featured and free Hyper-V hypervisor. If Server 2008 R2 made Microsoft good enough, then the 2012 series of products makes it nearly feature-complete with a competitive price tag.
In mid-2013, VMware should release a major version that moves its capabilities beyond those of Microsoft. Unfortunately for VMware, new capabilities tend to only apply to large enterprises; the adoption curve is slow and married to refresh cycles.
VMware's technological edge over its rivals is not in question; however, can VMware expand its install base to include new adopters en masse -- SMB virtualization beginners checking out the latest product refresh? Microsoft has made a powerful play for these customers.
In 2013, either VMware commits to realigning and reevaluating pricing structures to retain relevance and grow market share or they double down on marketing. VMware may risk cannibalizing higher-margin sales by altering feature sets and prices to reach smaller organizations. Emphasizing marketing would mimic Apple's market approach: Obtain and retain the high-margin end of the market, banking on feature superiority and excellent support to cover the cost delta. This would implicitly cede the low-margin markets to Microsoft, turning VMware into a boutique supplier of top-tier enterprise cloud technologies. The coming year could define VMware's position in the market for the next decade.
Around the IT industry
Our expert contributors aren't the only ones sharing their predictions for VMware in 2013.
"Clearly the #VDI desktop has replaced conventional PC. Most large deployments going into the new year are VDI cloud desktops #VMware #Citrix," said Devon IT's Joe Makoid (@jmakoid) on Twitter. Hybrid clouds make Jake Vande Hey's (@JakeVandeHey) list. The Enterprise Systems Group vice president tweeted, "Hybrid technology will be the solution for business in 2013. Premis [sic], Cloud, VMware all should be a part of your business strategy. #mitel."
IT is entering a new, third phase of data center virtualization. "The 'fabric' will eventually have the intelligence to analyze its own properties against policy rules that create optimum paths, change them to match changing conditions and do so without requiring laborious parameter adjustments," predicted Gartner analyst David Cappuccio at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo in late 2012.