A Cloud a Risin’

by Dave Michels

Is the Cloud OS going to replace traditional server operating systems? Are the days of server based Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX, UX, etc. over?

Last week:

Citrix acquires Cloud.com
VMware announces vSphere V

In terms of enterprise voice, we are starting to see the trend of centralization – hosting branch offices off a centralized voice solution. That central collection of servers may be on-site data or in a co-lo and may even be virtualized. Virtulalizaton (the “V” word) is becoming common in voice planning conversations. That’s significant as the “V” word was never mentioned in voice circles just a few years ago.

Gartner declared in its Magic Quadrant of the virtualization technology vendors, only three belong in the magical leaders quadrant; VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft. The other three in the chart (Oracle, Parallels, and Red Hat) fell into the niche quadrant (if they weren’t before, they are niche players now). Gartner wrote:

As of mid-2011, at least 40% of x86 architecture workloads have been virtualized on servers; furthermore, the installed base is expected to grow five-fold from 2010 through 2015 (as both the number of workloads in the marketplace grow and as penetration grows to more than 75%).

This correlates to a recent PinDropSoup:  “VMware is on fire. The company recently reported year-over-year growth at 49%, ending FY2010 at $2.9 billion. Included in that top line is 95% increase in operating income. Q1-11 revenue is 33% higher than Q1-10.”

There is no question that telephony is headed into the clouds (private, public, and hybrid). However, we are on a collision course when it comes to desktop virtualization. In telephony we see a greater acceptance of softphones and in virtual desktops there is no solution that supports virtual softphones.
I see only three options:
  1. A breakthru in desktop virtualizaltion (server virtualization didn’t support real time telephony at first either).
  2. The desktop phone returns and stays. A virtual desktop for computing, and a video phone for conversing.
  3. Improved desktop capabilities – effectively putting local capabilities in thin top desktops or browsers to enable desktop video and voice without a full blown operating system. Maybe Google’s new WebRTC will make the ChromeBook a real-time capable thin client.

Virtualization is on the periphery of telecom right now, but front and center in IT. The main focus is the data center, but the desktop is on deck. I expect both to be a very major topic in enterprise telephony over the next couple of years.

How big is virtualization? Bigger than the Great Wall of China.