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Wed 12 Mar 2008 02:03 PM

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Virtual dreams?

All indicators, including NME Awards nominations, point to the fact that Middle East end-users are yet to invest seriously in virtualisation. However, the tide might be turning

Few features bring in as much response from vendors like one on virtualisation. I happen to be working on a server virtualisation piece to be included in the April issue of Network Middle East. The article will discuss at length the changes that enterprises need to make in their datacentres to accommodate a change to virtualisation, the common mistakes they make and ways to avoid them while obtaining optimal productivity from the virtualisation platform. You can read the full-length feature as part of the Datacentre Focus section in NME April.

A simple mail requesting inputs from the industry brought forth a huge number of responses from vendors who operate in the virtualisation market to a greater or lesser extent. This is hardly surprising. Pegged as one of the fastest growing sectors, with huge potential in the Middle East market, a mention of virtualisation is enough to get most of the industry excited beyond belief.

Rarely is this excitement - if ever - reflected among end-users in the region. While I am personally aware of many regional IT managers and teams which are either actively considering it or even running minor pilots on virtualisation platforms, I still have to hear of any enterprise which has had a full deployment of server or storage virtualisation in their organisations. In other words, there is a lot of talk and very little money being spent on it.

The nominations for NME Innovation Awards 2008 reflect this since there is yet any enterprise end-user or vendor to put in an entry for a virtualisation implementation. Incidentally, the nominations are still open for all categories; please log onto the awards website to choose the category, download the official nomination form and send in your entries.

There are some reasons for this apparent disconnect. The modern Middle East is literally taking shape in front of our eyes. Construction is booming and organisations are setting up greenfield datacentres with new networks and infrastructure. At this stage, most companies are often focused more on what servers and storage - in terms of physical infrastructure - to equip themselves with, rather than extracting extra productivity from existing infrastructure. Virtualisation is often seen as a set of technologies that firms need to consider and move to after they have a basic physical backbone in place and need to draw optimal performance, without additional investments in infrastructure, to accommodate the growing organisation.

However, the good news is that this disconnect is slowly on its way out. With more enterprises involved in pilot projects and testing environments, we are likely to see a full-length implementation by the end of the year as per most industry experts. The article in the April issue will focus on some of the issues that enterprises can face during the shift to virtualisation and the steps they can follow to deal with them effectively.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for an entry to the NME Innovation Awards for a virtualisation platform. What you waiting for then? Log on and nominate here.

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