When it comes to infrastructure and operations, research firm Gartner says that virtualization will be the most significant trend through the next four years.
Not only will virtualization impact IT professionals working on everything from servers to desktops, it will also mean changes for the market as vendors compete and also consolidate.
"Virtualization will transform how IT is managed, what is bought, how it is deployed, how companies plan and how they are charged," Gartner stated in a summary of the survey's findings. "As a result, virtualization is creating a new wave of competition among infrastructure vendors that will result in considerable market disruption and consolidation over the next few years."
One main reason Gartner cites for virtualization's impact is the strong "promise" of server virtualization, which it says will allow organizations to get much more out of their infrastructure. In fact, Gartner thinks server virtualization has already reduced the market for x86 servers by 4 percent in 2006; it expects there to be 4 million virtual machines by 2009.
The research company also predicts that PC virtualization will "increase rapidly" during the next three years, with the 5 million virtualized PCs in 2007 leaping to 660 million by the end of 2011.
"As both server and PC virtualization become more pervasive, traditional IT infrastructure orthodoxy is being challenged and is changing the way business works with IT," commented Philip Dawson, vice president of Gartner, in a released statement.
Reasons Gartner gives for virtualization's rapid rise include "sharp" drops in hypervisor prices and management costs (thanks to increased competition), plus increased flexibility and choices due to "decoupling technology that breaks the close ties and dependencies...between hardware and the operating system (machine virtualization) and between the operating system and applications (application virtualization)."
Virtualization, Virtual PC, Virtual Machine