Virtualization is a process that allows one piece of hardware to run a number of operating system images all at the same time. Prior to its inception, the standard for x86 servers was to only run one application to one server. This was fine until more and more servers were needed to meet the growing demands of the IT world, as data center managers were spending millions of dollars on wasted server space.

But now, virtualization has changed everything, for one machine can run a multitude of applications, each isolated into one virtual operating system, completely separated from the others.

As a subsidiary of EMC, VMware popped onto the technology scene in 1998, beginning as a start-up company and soaring to become one of the driving forces in virtualization in just a few short years. In 2005, virtualization technology came in to mainstream awareness faster than anyone could have ever imagined – including many IT experts. Not only did it fly right on through the developmental software stages, it fell headlong into the data center… all within a year.

Recent times have seen the IT world look for different means of consolidating that would assist in running their systems more efficiently. Virtualization software from companies such as Platespin was just in time to initiate and capitalize on the momentum for this new technology, seeing nothing short of outstanding adoption rates and customer satisfaction. The latest estimates even show that nearly 75% of all companies with at least 500 employees are installing virtual servers, with nearly half of those who are already utilizing the technology stating that of all new servers purchased, close to half of them will be virtualized.

Other companies besides Platespin have entered the virtualization market as well. Microsoft has had quite a bit of luck creating and marketing its own virtualization software, mostly due to their large customer base. Xen is another, with its software currently breaking into the market. Of course, just like anything else, software is certain to have a kink or two as it passes from a magazine headline to the adoption process, so buyers would do well to go with a trusted name when purchasing a solution

So what’s next for virtualization?

Many of the experts claim that management of this in-demand technology is right around the corner, as current users aren’t mixing and matching technologies, but are simply utilizing them for one purpose- either networking, storage, or systems. If your concerns are related to storage, you would work with storage virtualization. Ideally, all virtualizations of one company would be able to be pooled and be tied together or moved around as needed. As with any new technology, the question of automation has been popping up throughout the conversations of vendors and customers. Is it possible? Yes, it is. Will it happen? I predict it will…

Jennifer Hanson recommends you visit http://www.platespin.com/ for more information on virtualization.

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