Rating My 2011 Virtualization & Cloud Predictions

December 5, 2011

Looking back at my virtualization predictions, all I see is cloud!

So it is prediction time again – a practice I am not keen on, but which provides a fun diversion for the silly season.

But before I attempt the foolhardy mission of predicting 2012, I thought I would attempt the even more foolhardy mission of looking back to see how I did with last year’s predictions.

Let’s take them all one by one (you can see them stored for posterity on VMBlog.com, 7-11: 7 Virtualization Predictions for 2011):

  • “Virtual Stall” will continue to be a major challenge for the majority of organizations

I think I did well here. Despite a small but sustained cadre of naysayers, virtual stall continued to be a major issue for virtualization in 2011.  As recently as November, ReadWriteCloud wrote about virtual stall, while the Vanson Bourne (vendor-sponsored) ‘V-Index’ from September showed virtualization penetration still hovering around 40% – exactly where Gartner put it at the beginning of the year (sub req’d). So not only has virtual stall persisted, it may even have increased, and certainly shows no sign of abating any time soon.

Verdict: CORRECT

  • Automation will be the hottest topic in virtualization
As the focus moved decidedly from virtualization to cloud, automation was absolutely a hot topic

Automation was hot for sure, but many other options could have been hotter. Cloud was certainly top of mind, so much that ‘vanilla’ server virtualization is rapidly becoming almost irrelevant. Desktop virtualization also attracted a lot of attention, but seems to be more noise than action (see below). ‘Orchestration’ is gaining heat, but in most cases is just a synonym for ‘automation’. Still, as the focus moved decidedly from virtualization to cloud, automation was absolutely a hot topic – you simply cannot do cloud without it. So this prediction could easily go either way.

Verdict: PUSH

  • Virtualization will become much more heterogeneous

I was absolutely on target here. As Andreas Groth pointed out in his recent blog, survey data from July shows VMware sliding in server virtualization penetration from 78% to 59%, while Microsoft gained from 38% to 53%, and Citrix XenServer doubled from 9% to 18%. Especially since Microsoft & Citrix joined VMware at top of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for the first time this year, expect this trend to continue. Meanwhile the IDC MarketScape for Desktop Virtualization 2011 report from June still lists Citrix as the only vendor in their “Leaders” category, but VMware clearly gained significant inroads as the backend for VDI deployments. No doubt I was on the money here.

Verdict: CORRECT

  • 2011 will not be the year that endpoint virtualization finally ‘breaks through’
No doubt that 2011 was not a breakout year for desktop virtualization. Anyone for 2012?

I was 100% right here – and I hate that I was, because I really want desktop virtualization to succeed. Unfortunately, despite some significant sized deployments, Computer Economics research reported in CIO Update shows a stagnant market where the vast majority (72%) are at best ‘considering the viability’ of desktop virtualization, or at worst reporting ‘no activity’. Moreover, the significant consolidation of vendors in this space (see below) indicates ongoing revenue difficulties and a very soft market. Desktop virtualization is a great technology, and I back it fully, but there is no doubt that 2011 was not its breakout year. Anyone for 2012?

Verdict: CORRECT

  • Private cloud will be the #1 ‘management by magazine’ topic

This is another outcome that is hard to call. At the time of writing, Google news search for 2011 shows 2,730 results for “private cloud” vs. 1,790 results for “public cloud” – but “big data” returns exactly the same (weirdly enough), “virtualization” returns 6,220, “social media” returns 70,700, and “iPad” returns a whopping 238,000 (meanwhile “devops” returns just 101 results). However, it is unclear to what degree this translates to management demands for deployment, as I predicted. The private cloud hype was immense and the clamor from management to deploy it was deafening, but I cannot claim an undeniably victory on this one.

Verdict: PUSH

  • The acquisition of niche tools by large vendors will increase

This one was pretty obvious. And indeed, since I wrote that prediction, CA Technologies acquired WatchMouse, ITKO, Base Technologies, and Torokina Networks; Citrix acquired Cloud.com, Kaviza, RingCube, ShareFile, and App-DNA; VMware acquired NeoAccel, WaveMaker, PacketMotion, Shavlik, and Digital Fuel; and a swathe of niche tools were also snapped up too, like Akorri (bought by NetApp), dynaTrace (Compuware), Hyper-9 (Solarwinds), Altor (Juniper), OpsSourse (Dimension Data), Gluster (Red Hat) Pancetera (Quantum), CloudNucleus (Vembu), RNA Networks (Dell), CloudKick (Rackspace), and newScale (Cisco). This was always a no-brainer, so while clearly correct, I take no great pride in it.

Verdict: CORRECT

  • The failure of standalone niche virtualization tools will increase

It is hard to see when vendors go out of business. Mostly they do not fail outright, but rather are snapped up by other vendors for pennies on the dollar; they reinvent themselves (e.g. from ‘virtualization management’ to ‘cloud management’); or they reposition their technology in an attempt to access adjacent markets. I do not doubt that the many smaller vendors that have drifted from sight or been acquired have actually been failing. Indeed, I know that some of the transactions above were certainly in one of these categories. However, without any evidence (at least not that I can publish), I cannot claim 100% on this.

Verdict: PUSH

I did pretty well last year – of 7 predictions, 4 were correct, 3 were a push … too accurate to be an analyst :)

Overall, I think I did pretty well last year. Out of the seven predictions, I got four unequivocally correct, and three were a push – although admittedly many were not exactly ‘going out on a limb’. Reassuringly – and perhaps surprisingly – none were way off the mark.

With a success rate of over 50%, I may have been too accurate to be an analyst (I kid, I kid!), but not too bad for a workaday strategy and marketing guy from a big software vendor.

Coming up, I will stare into my crystal ball again, and ask the strange upside-down dude that stares back at me just what the future holds for 2012! Stay tuned for more prediction hilarity!

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