Three Big Service Provider Themes for 2012: Part 1

By | January 27, 2012
We’re a few weeks into 2012 now and the wave of ‘My Predictions for 2012′ posts has come to an end so I thought I’d write a quick update on what I see as the three big themes that IT Service Providers should be looking to exploit over the next 11 months.
These are based on discussions with thought leaders at EMC, VMware and the Service Providers and aspiring Service Providers that I have a had chance to meet since the new year – quite a few in the latter two categories already I’m pleased to say.

In order to avoid hitting you with a huge wall of text, I’m going to break this up into three posts, so here’s theme number one for 2012.

Virtualisation of x86 Client-Server Workloads Goes Mainstream with the Biggest Users

OK, you’d have to be crazy not to predict this one and lots of people already think virtualisation has gone mainstream. If you define mainstream as a virtualised x86 platform being as ready for adoption with tier 1 business applications such as SAP, Oracle E-Business Suite and Microsoft Exchange, it’s there.

It’s also been widely reported that in new server installations, virtual server deployments have been outstripping physical deployments for some time. Here’s just one such report. However, if you look closely at the really big users of IT – global financial service providers and investment banks and top tier global telecommunications operators for example – you will still find very very large numbers of physical systems present. Of course, this is mostly to due to that fact that assets are still within their service lifetimes and haven’t been through a refresh cycle yet. Naming no names, but to illustrate a couple of examples, I know of a telecoms operator with 25,000 physical servers operational today and a global full service financial services provider with well over 45,000.

So, my first big SP theme is that 2012 will be the year that wholesale replacement of these large physical platforms gets under way. This will be stimulated by dramatic improvements in the management solutions available for virtualised infrastructure from VMware and others, which add further weight to the cost/benefit case for adopting virtualisation in very large environments.

Service Providers will play a pivotal role in this transition as small organisations struggle to migrate due to a lack of expertise and larger ones struggle due to the sheer scale of the task. A significant amount of x86 workloads will move to off premise virtualised infrastructure providers and some will migrate to new virtualised on-premise platforms that are owned and operated by Service Providers within the customers own data centres, but organisations of all sizes will be looking for the option that provides the optimal blend of cost efficiency, agility, security and ease of adoption.

Towards the end of the year some additional enabling technologies that further simplify federation of workloads across infrastructure in differing locations will come to market. VXLAN is a prime example of one such technology that will enable existing N-tier applications to ‘go-hybrid’ and be split across internal and externally provided infrastructure without requiring significant architectural changes.

In my view, Services Providers that are able to illustrate a compelling medium to long term strategy to enable customers to achieve their goals of cost efficiency, agility and security by exploiting cloud services and provide transition support to help organisations realise these benefits quickly and with the minimum of risk will be the big winners in this wave of infrastructure modernisation.I’ll post what I feel will be the second big theme for Service Providers in 2012 early next week. Really interested in your views on this post in the mean time though, so if you have any feedback, please do post a comment.

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