Will Future Generations Take Virtualization for Granted?

At the risk of dating myself, I’m old enough to remember life before cell phones, DVRs, cable, and yes, even remote controls. Fortunately, the wheel and fire were around. I’m pretty sure that my kids have no idea that you used to have to watch TV shows when they were actually scheduled to be on. Static reception from rabbit ears on top of the TV that has 5 or 6 channels? That would be totally incomprehensible to my kids. It’s funny how different generations take different things for granted. So what does this have to do with SQL Server?  Virtualization is a good example of technology that future generations will take for granted. Every now and then when I have some free time (not that it happens much) I like to consider trends in the making within the database and server markets to help position my business and career.

For most of the decade, virtualization has primarily been a consolidation strategy. But I’m of the opinion that we’re getting close to the tipping point in which virtualization becomes the norm rather than exception for running all types of computing solutions. Database servers? Sure, we’ll be able to virtualize pretty much every tier and every type of application scenario. Management tools, performance, features, and prices are finally getting to the point in which I think that servers and applications will simply be virtualized. Who likes recovering a server from raw iron? That’s no fun. What if it was always as easy as having an up-to-date virtual instance that you could bring up pretty much anywhere? Forget about servers for a second. Who wants to waste a few days every couple of years when you need to upgrade your primary "work" machine? Buy a new machine and have my virtualized laptop up and running in a few seconds? Yeah, I like that.

A 2008 Yankee Group report found that 26 percent of the small-to-midsized business (SMB) market was using virtualization technology of some kind and predicted that the adoption rate would be 69 percent within two years, which is a pretty aggressive growth rate. Raw iron and native OS installs won’t disappear overnight, but I wonder how long it will be before DBAs straight out of school can’t contemplate a world before everything was virtualized. I bet virtualization products will even come with remote controls so that you can do backups from the couch. What do you think?

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