In all areas of the market, we are beginning to see hypervisors cropping up. Each have various pros and cons. However, the cumulative effect on the virtualization market is important to note for strategists. Even the new mobile virtualization platform of VMware is being directly attacked by Xen/KVM on ARM.
Although VMware is constantly touted as being at least somewhere between 2-4 years ahead of the market. I don't agree with that point of view - as time and competitor movements in the wider market are not linear in their behaviour.
Indeed even the stronghold of the Intel-VMware platform is being gradually encroached upon by ARM and AMD. They are building similar extensions in silicon as Intel, with the added advantage of open source hypervisors gaining traction in a development community that is many times the size of VMware's potentially.
It is a sobering thought that even VMware originally started out from academia and that the hypervisor itself is based on Linux. Academia is now firmly behind open source hypervisors. Once the likes of Red Hat, Citrix and Oracle start weighing in with their development expertise, and in Oracle's case with the added advantage of tuned hardware systems, it will be interesting to see if VMware is still the only game in town.
Why is this important for the CIO?
Indeed, the CIO and team, would be well advised to verify if the savings they are expecting really will be delivered by a near-commodity hypervisor that has strong license costs versus the organisational need to be cost efficient, and tap into the marketing value of the cloud.
Interestingly, in a more holistic sense, the fact that open source hypervisors are continuing their trend in being available on every imaginable hardware platform, including mobile, is in itself a strategic factor. New challengers to Intel and AMD are cropping up, and indeed platforms that had faded into the background over 2009/2010 are surging ahead in 2011-2012 for high end enterprise workloads - as mentioned in the blog "A Resurgent SPARC Platform for Enterprise Cloud Workloads ".
The Corporate Cloud Strategy will certainly benefit from this type of thinking. It will highlight potential alternatives. Depending on the time horizon that the strategy is valid for, "good enough" may well be enough to realize the competitive advantage that is being targeted.
Certainly learning to adapt your organization for the realities of the cloud world requires time. Innovation built upon such enabling platforms requires not just a focus on the infrastructure but the application development environment and ultimately the software services that are consumed.
Remember it is the applications that deliver advantage. The quicker they are brought to market, and on platforms that allow cost efficiencies and agility, the better for the organization concerned. This in turn is leading to a stronger focus on appliances and engineered systems for enterprise virtualization....that's for another blog I think.