Besides sessions run by Gartner analysts, there were also many vendor presentations at the conference. The hot topics this year seemed to be virtualization and green IT.
In polls conducted at the conference, the majority of the participants indicated that they were already using virtualization technologies at their organizations. So in a way, virtualization was not a brand new topic. What were interesting were some of the spins that vendors put into virtualization. In fact, one of the vendor went as far as calling remote application access “display virtualization”, as it separates the box where the application is run, from the terminal device where the application is displayed.
Wow, by that definition, X Windows, VNC or even the web browser are really virtualization technologies. Hmm...
It may be cool to be able to display an application remotely, and it is certainly very, very good to be able to utilize hardware more efficiently, take snapshot and rollback system images, and migrate running systems. However, I think the truly exciting possibilities in virtualization are with the ways that it can change application management. For example, one of the biggest headaches in managing applications is deployment, as it can be pretty challenging to make sure that the application can co-exist with all the other software that run on the box. A certified virtual machine image that includes the application can go a long way in reducing that complexity.
In terms of green IT, IBM pointed out that many organizations are already spending close to 30% of their energy budget on running IT, and the figure is going up. The interesting thing is that using energy efficient CPUs only reduces overall energy consumption by 2%. Other practices, such as locating data centers closer to energy sources, cooling system redesigns, and turning on servers only when needed to handle workload, can have much greater impacts on energy consumption and energy costs. Supporting these green IT practices require more dynamic software that can be activated and deactivated with ease, and even greater emphasis on capacity management. For example, electricity costs may become a new parameter to consider when scheduling batch jobs.