4. Consolidated virtualization management tools will get much smarter with analytics. BothVMware and Microsoft have consolidated their virtualization management suites and now offer simpler bundles of monitoring and analytics, plus capacity, configuration, and performance management and automation features. After a wave of acquisitions (including Dell's Quest buy), look for the major players to spend the first half of 2013 digesting and integrating these new assets. Flooded with virtualization monitoring metrics? Tackle your virtualization "big data" problem with analytics-driven decision-making. From textual patterns (log files) to event correlations and configuration events, there's a lot of intelligence hidden in your virtual environment. Start unlocking it this year.
5. We'll let the application dictate the best virtualization platform, not the other way around. The debate over hypervisor features is effectively over for many customers as the major platforms have essentially come to parity. Heterogeneous virtualization is here to stay. We're past the days when all applications are virtualized onto a single primary hypervisor. That's good news for anyone worried about lock-in. Open source hypervisors and Linux virtualization are already in place (and good enough) in many enterprises and there are plenty of Linux workloads yet to be virtualized. Your application and OS choices should determine the best way to virtualize-you can then layer on advanced management for the apps that really need it. All the virtualization management vendors will (finally) embrace heterogeneity in 2013.
6. The hypervisor cost wars will continue...and continue to miss the point. Microsoft will continue to make a dent in VMware's dominance, especially in the SMB and in departmental deployments, but not only because Hyper-V is free. Whether or not the VM container is "free" is largely irrelevant now (you can thank the cloud for that), because you're really paying for the management stack, and that's a good thing. Whether you love vCenter or System Center or any other systems management suite, you can still have your choice of hypervisor, including open source options. This means VMware's under intense pressure to keep eyeballs locked into their management tools, which is a good thing for customers. Management tools will get more powerfuland cheaper in 2013. That's where the battle should be.
7. It'll be year one of the software-defined datacenter. The software-defined datacenter (SDD or SDDC) concept is the next logical step toward highly-automated and efficient IT operations, and it's a natural extension of virtualization to the storage and network tiers. By mid-year, we'll start to see the first integrated solutions for software-defined compute, network, and storage come together. VMware's made a big bet here with the Nicira buy, and already has a powerful suite of storage integration APIs. Microsoft is investing heavily here, too, with a rich set of storage and network virtualization capabilities in Windows Server 2012. If you can provision a new VM in seconds but it takes days to allocate storage or network resources for it, you should be watching this space. We're just at the beginning.
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