Virtualisation tour de force driven by industry partnerships

While to outsiders the IT industry often appears to move with blinding speed, those working within it often feel that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

April 15, 2010

While to outsiders the IT industry often appears to move with blinding speed, those working within it often feel that the more things change, the more they stay the same. However, where virtualisation is concerned, the pace of change in recent times is such that it is even impressing industry veterans. That’s according to Craig Hockley, General Manager for the Data Centre Solutions at Dimension Data, who says that although it’s been coming for some time, the transformation which is taking place in the data centre is astounding.

“We’re rapidly seeing the data centre transform from a physical to a virtual paradigm. Such is the demand for the transformation that it is shaping our entire business,” says Hockley.

The benefits of maximising the usage of all resources while fluidly meeting business demand for IT services, coupled with maturing technology, has clients strongly focused on this aspect of their IT landscape, Hockley asserts.

Coupled to this, he adds, is the strength of partnerships within the IT industry which increasingly reflect the fact that the various elements of data centre infrastructure cannot be seen in isolation. “As a consequence, what is happening in the industry right now is the most exciting stuff I’ve seen in a career which spans 16 years.”

Specifically, Hockley points to the relationship forged between Cisco, EMC and VMware. “Cisco, traditionally a networking vendor and one with which Dimension Data was inextricably linked since our inception, has introduced server and unified computing models which are shaping our go-to-market. Add the storage technologies of EMC and the virtualisation software from VMware to Cisco’s ‘game-breaker’ solutions; the result is a complete approach which converges the server, network and storage elements of the data centre.”

As a solution provider, Hockley says this development positions Dimension Data most favourably. The company features prominently as a Cisco global partner of the year. It was named global VMware partner of the year in 2009. And EMC awarded the company regional partner of the year, also last year. “This adds to the so-called ‘VCE’ [VMware, Cisco and EMC] proposition for virtual computing environments. We’ve backed the right horses and the fact that they have come together to create unified solutions plays right into the value proposition which Dimension Data has advocated for some time already.”

The VCE partnership, Hockley continues, provides for a simpler deployment of technologies and infrastructure to enable virtualised environments. “It’s a convergence of the elements of the data centre from a vendor perspective. Right now maybe 20% of data centres in this country are virtualised; with the interest the market is showing and the increased number of reference sites and success stories, backed by proven solutions from these key vendors, expect that to go to 60 or 80% in the very near future.”

This step towards internal virtualisation is a precursor to ‘internet scale’ cloud computing, Hockley says. “Cloud computing is virtualisation on a massive scale. First came consolidation, then virtualisation internally to create internal clouds, something which is happening now, then large scale cloud computing will become a reality.”