Some Thoughts on the Last Decade and 2011 in Review

I cannot believe the month of December is almost upon us.  Every year around this time I like to reflect upon the year and give my review and remarks.  This is a special year for me because it was around this time a decade ago that I was introduced to a cool new technology called virtualization from this neat new product called VMware Workstation. It was a magical moment when I first discovered the ability to run multiple operating systems, at the same time, on a single computer.  I remember this moment well because it was true love at first install.  Within a year I was playing with VMware ESX Server 1.5 and was given my first virtualization proof of concept that was followed by my first production design and deployment. The rest, as they say, is history as well as an amazing ride. On to 2011 in Review.

In the early days of VMware ESX Server we had the ability to run multiple hosts accessing the same shared storage on the backend and that was about it but even from the very beginning VMware has presented us with API’s to issue command remotely. It was like the beginning of the Wild West with a great deal of collaboration and sharing on the VMTN Community Forums.  It was not uncommon to see some amazing posts presented with different ways of doing things as well as everyone ready to share. This was what I would like to call the innovation period where new vendors, like Vizioncore and PHD Virtual, created products which were tailored specifically for this new up and coming technology.  New solutions were developed to address different pain points.

I had written a few scripts over the years to do things like detect when a host and all its virtual machines had gone down. Once the failure had been detected the script would register and restart the virtual machines on another host. Another script that I had written would allow ESX Server to connect to an LDAP or Active Directory Server to check the members of a group as well as add or remove the users from the VMware ESX Server based on that group membership. One last one to mention was the scripts that I had in place to automate the ESX server installation as well as perform all the post install configuration changes. All these solution are now built into the technology but for a time if you had a pain point, it was all for one and one for all to resolve it.

VMware has grown dramatically since the early days with VMware’s portfolio getting larger and more mature going forward.  Vendors are the ones that are now hyper focused on resolving pain points and it seems now that virtualization is a matured solution the vendors are now in their own innovation period.  In my humble opinion, 2011 was the year of the storage. It was amazing to see all the new SSD storage technology at VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas.   Tintri VMstore was one of the new technologies with their VM-Aware storage technology.  We are seeing continued growth and maturity from companies like SolarWinds, StarWinds, FalconStore and DataCore, to name a few. Nexenta was another company that showed off their OpenStorage solution and was one of the solutions used in the VMware Hands-On Labs.

With 2011 quickly coming to an end, it is time to stick my neck out and mention what I think will be things to watch out for in 2012. I think there will be a few areas of interest to keep an eye on. I think 2012 could be the year for networking and replication technologies.  10GB networking has finally gotten to the point where it is becoming more prevalent in the designs and deployments of the newer servers and virtualization designs.  With these faster speeds and the concept of converged networking I think the 2012 has the potential to be the year of networking.

The next area that will be worth keeping your eyes on is the VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP).  I am not sure we will all be running virtual machines on our phones in 2012 but I do think we will start to see this technology come into play and make it out of beta.  I got to take a look at one of the beta phones at VMworld 2011 and think this is something that could really be a game changer in the mobile industry.  A little disclaimer to go with this observation, I am not sure MVP will appear in 2012 and in case it does not quite make it before the end of the world on 12/21/2012, look for it to come to in to play in 2013.

I mentioned Vizioncore earlier in this post as one of the first companies that were based on VMware virtualization from the start.  Vizioncore was eventually bought and become part of Quest Software.  David Bieneman was the founder of Vizioncore who decided to move in a different direction after Vizioncore was bought by Quest.  David has now started another company called Liquidware Labs. Liquidware Labs is focusing their business in the Virtual Desktop place and has been making grounds with their technology.  What really has me really intrigued with this company is they are bringing the old band back together.  When I stopped at the Liquidware Labs booth at VMworld and started talking with the crew, I really thought for a second that I was at the Vizioncore Booth.  David has been hiring back his old crew from the old Vizioncore days that helped launch the company into something great.  I can only imagine with the hunger and experience this team has in building something good it only really make sense to give them the benefit of the doubt that they will create something amazing once again.

This is my look at the year and the decade as well as some areas to keep an eye on for next year.  It is fun to speculate on the future so I encourage you to comment on what your thoughts are for the year and what you think will be the area or thing to watch in 2012.

Virtualization is a journey, not a project

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