Virtualization’s Role in the IoT

December 1, 2015

This article was recently published on Intel’s IoT Solutions Provider’s website. Visit the published article here.

By Sean Corry, Senior Citrix Architect, DISYS

picture-173-1448303304When discussing industry trends or what’s on the horizon in the area of virtualization, it is important to have some perspective and to understand the past. Riding the technology wave can be a challenge but understanding current trends and how they will impact your organization five or seven years from now is critical. Virtualization is one of those technologies that has been an important feature in the IT landscape, and that will take on new importance as the Internet of Things continues to expand.

When VMware was founded in 1998, very few appreciated the long-term impact it would have on the industry.  It took about six years to gain widespread popularity as more and more IT organizations embraced the notion of server consolidation through virtualization.  The virtues of server virtualization, especially as it relates to cost savings, were so overwhelming that in 2004, storage company EMC took notice and acquired VMware.  And, although Citrix led the industry in application virtualization in the form of published apps and desktops, by 2007 VMware was so firmly entrenched in the IT landscape that EMC sold a 15-percent stake of the company in an initial public offering.  In 2008, the virtualization discussion comprised VMware, Citrix and Microsoft, converged with hardware vendors and datacenter operators to form the first iteration of what would eventually be termed “cloud computing.”

IT as a service (ITaas), which is the confluence of DaaS, SaaS and PaaS, quickly became synonymous with cloud computing as industry experts signaled the death of the PC. While today we have not escaped traditional PC orthodoxy, it is fair to say that virtualization and the impact on the enterprise has been nothing short of phenomenal.

When you think of virtualization, it’s not confined to the traditional hardware, software and datacenter models.  Cloud offerings from Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Amazon and Citrix offer customers better scalability and flexibility when it comes to delivering and accessing lines of business applications, customer data and virtual desktops.

Many of our most leading-edge clients still use the traditional cloud computing model with their private on-premise datacenters, physical servers, hypervisors, storage and virtual machines.  But this year we’ve seen several new trends around “software defined” and “converged infrastructure.”

Software defined networking is an approach allowing administrators to manage network services through abstraction of higher-level functionality.  The system making the decisions on how and where traffic is routed is decoupled from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the selected destination.  And the converged infrastructure movement promoted by vendors such as Tinti and Nutanix, continues to take market share from vendors including Cisco, EMC and NetApp.

The future of virtualization will include a completely redefined workspace comprising several technology trends including cloud, mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT).  As software defined environments continue to evolve, more companies will decouple their networks, data and applications from their physical infrastructure.  Companies seeking to transform from traditional private clouds continue to partner with cloud providers such as Amazon, Salesforce, IBM and Oracle.

For companies seeking to upgrade key core systems including messaging and collaboration, Microsoft’s Azure will continue to build and take market share.   Other clients looking to make the transition to ‘net new’ software-defined platforms will find offerings from Citrix (i.e. Workspace Cloud).

Capital investments in expensive server and storage solutions and private datacenters will be replaced with more nimble, cost effective measures focusing on mobility, security and the consumerization of IT.

Some argue Corporate America is not ready to embrace virtualization in the form of virtual desktops.  The irony is, we’ve been using a ‘virtual’ desktop in the form of a hosted published desktop for almost two decades. The Battle over the Desktop will continue to evolve and unfold as IT administrators shift from traditional client/server orthodoxy to cloud-based architecture.

CIOs and CEOs are eager to realize the promise of improved productivity, effectiveness and profitability from mobilizing their entire business.  A fully transformed digital platform enabling business mobility through secure, mobile workspaces, providing  users with ubiquitous access to productivity applications, desktops, customer data and communications on any device, over any network and cloud is the future of virtualization.

Those concepts coupled with the IoT and cloud computing will guide the industry during the next three to five years and will enable new ways for businesses and people to work more efficiently and quickly.