We’ve written extensively in the past about many technical aspects of virtualisation, especially about the coming inflexion point for the adoption of storage hypervisors.
The potential cultural and business benefits of adoption have to be strong to persuade users to add the management of virtual components on top of the physical equipment, even if suppliers aim to make physical management easier through the introduction of tightly integrated systems and simplified management schemas.

Consumer IT changes the hierarchy of touch
We describe one technical objective of virtualisation as ‘delivering any application from any server to any device at any time’ – in fact one of the lenses we use in vendor evaluation. We should also consider cultural changes. In particular:

  • Skype, Facebook, Twitter and other sites are driving a significant growth remote interactions
  • Smart phone and tablet popularity with consumers is raising expectations for something similar in business – not just BYOD strategies, but self-service enterprise app stores as well
  • Businesses are looking to add social feeds to their business planning processes through analytics

We think of business communications is a ‘hierarchy of touch’, encompassing everything from face-to-face meetings to snail mail, with strong growth currently in remote relationships enabled through the Internet and social media. Newer means of communicating are often adopted first by the young (instant messaging rather than email for instance). Supporting these newer types of application almost always requires advanced virtualisation – not just for public Clouds, but also for businesses which choose to adopt similar styles.

The business rationale for virtualisation
As well as enabling new application and communication needs, increasing productivity, recruitment and staff retention, there are a number of benefits of implementing virtualisation. In particular:

  • Lower costs through higher utilisation (although these may reduce once you reached the new capacities)
  • Easier hardware management through simplification, automation and orchestration
  • The potential to recruit technical staff with less specialised roles
  • ‘Spend to save’ – especially in sectors such as education, where desktop virtualisation can lower costs significantly

At an industry sector level it looks as if newer companies are embracing smart social interactions are beating those which are not yet investing: as a regular rail traveller I’m constantly reminded that the British system doesn’t vary the size of trains to match traveller numbers, or even count the number of passengers on its often hugely overcrowded peak-time services. In comparison, countries such as Holland use identity and smart ticketing to improve their capacity planning and concentrate on improving passenger experiences. There is a lack of competition in the railway business itself, although there are major environmental advantages of moving traffic from road to rail. Should the UK railways decide to improve their services, they will need to start with an investment in advanced IT virtualisation.

Connecting culture, business and technology together
For large companies adopting virtualisation is no longer an option: it is essential in order to succeed in addressing the cultural demand for virtual remote communications. Vendors need to simplify the hardware in order to cut down the increased management of physical and virtual environments and allow users to address front office business issues, rather than merely keeping the lights on. I believe there are strong ties between culture, business and technology in the rise of virtualisation.

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