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Although the idea dates back to the 1960s by IBM, the phenomenon and evolution of server virtualization had a life-changing impact in the IT industry for many enterprises and businesses since VMware introduced their x86 server software in the early 2000s. Since then, other vendors have developed their own server-virtualization platforms and the industry as a whole has created advanced management, automation, and orchestration tools that make deploying, moving, and managing virtual machine (VM) workloads an easy thing to do.

The general idea is that instead of running one operating system instance and one application per server, you could add a layer of software, known as a hypervisor, that enables you to run multiple operating system instances and associated workloads on a single physical server. Fewer servers, fewer racks, less networking gear; it all translates into money savings on everything from physical space to maintenance cost. Server virtualization also delivers the high availability, failover, speed, scalability, agility, performance, and flexibility that today’s web-based, highly connected businesses require. And server virtualization is the underlying technology that enables cloud computing vendors to offer their services.

Virtualization will ultimately enable us to minimize the set of premises equipment required for IT operations. Most organizations in the future will locally provision only Wi-Fi access points, Ethernet switches to interconnect and power APs, as well as to implement local traffic-management policies, and what used to be a router but which now really just a WAN interface device with a few router functions like addressing and security. Everything else, including the management console, will be virtualized in the Cloud.

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