The virtualization trends that will define 2022 are built in large part on those that were already underway in 2021. Cloud-native technologies will continue to play a prominent role, with an eye toward flexibility and a widening scope that incorporates cloud and edge environments. At the same time, vendors will continue to enhance their virtualization platforms by adding features and improving existing ones, while providing mechanisms for beefing up security.
Although virtualization will still be used extensively for the foreseeable future, it's steadily becoming only one tool in an arsenal of tools that support today's workloads. To accommodate both legacy and modern applications, virtualization vendors must continue to modify their portfolios to meet the demands of organizations that require platforms capable of supporting their fluctuating and evolving workloads.
Virtualization and the growing need for flexibility
As more organizations incorporate DevOps and cloud-native technologies into their development processes, the lines between traditional virtualization platforms and modern container-based platforms continue to blur. This is due in large part because most organizations embracing cloud-native technologies are still supporting legacy applications or applications that simply aren't suited to containerization.
Today's organizations must be able to negotiate both worlds without overburdening their IT operations. This is one reason why more IT teams are turning to composable disaggregated infrastructure (CDI). Not only does CDI disaggregate the hardware into logical resource pools, but it also makes it possible to provision resources on demand to accommodate different types of workloads, such as the following:
- applications running in VMs;
- applications running on bare metal;
- applications running in containers on bare metal; and
- applications running in containers in VMs.
Given the need for such flexibility, along with the growing popularity of DevOps, CDI is becoming increasingly popular as it continues to gain momentum in the server and storage industry. At the end of 2021, for example, Liqid Inc. raised $100 million in funding, which the company will use to expand its operations and scale its Matrix CDI software platform.
Liqid is also making inroads into high-performance computing that supports AI and machine learning workloads. In addition, Matrix recently added support for composable hosts in VMware virtualized environments. The new integration comes with a vCenter plugin that makes it possible to manage both physical and virtual hosts from within VMware.
But CDI isn't the only trend to reflect the growing need for more application flexibility. Two ongoing open source projects -- KubeVirt and Virtlet -- offer free tools for scheduling and managing traditional VMs in a Kubernetes cluster. Although both projects are still relatively young and come with limited support, they promise to help simplify IT administration and reduce operational expenses.
Perhaps more importantly, both projects also represent the growing trend toward systems that can accommodate different types of applications, while simplifying and reducing operational overhead. It's for this reason that organizations are also turning to hyper-converged infrastructure appliances. Not only are they incorporating disaggregation capabilities, but they're also embracing technologies such as Kubernetes for container orchestration.
Virtualization vendors respond to customer needs
Many organizations now run containerized applications on bare metal, and in all likelihood, those numbers will steadily grow. Even so, virtualization platforms will continue to play a vital role in application delivery in the foreseeable future.
Vendors that offer these platforms will continue to update and enhance them in ways to better support traditional applications, accommodate modern applications and in general offer more flexibility.
Given how vendors are improving their products and the types of improvements they're making -- along with the technical previews they're introducing -- it's clear that they're looking to the future.
Citrix Hypervisor updates
For example, Citrix Hypervisor has recently added support for several more OSes, including Windows Server 2022, Rocky Linux 8 and Gooroom 2, a cloud OS based on Debian Linux. Plus, the hypervisor now supports the Intel Xeon E-23xx and E-23xxG processors, as well as the kdump utility and kexec command in Linux VMs.
Citrix has also removed weaker cipher suites from the list of those supported for Secure Shell Protocol communications. In addition, customers must now authenticate their XenCenter instances to download and apply hotfixes, adding yet another layer of security.
Red Hat Virtualization updates
Not to be outdone, Red Hat Virtualization recently introduced several new technology preview features, such as incremental backup based on Changed Block Tracking and support for static IPv6 assignment. Red Hat has also added a Virtual Desktop Server Manager hook for nested virtualization, making it possible for a VM to serve as a host.
In addition, Red Hat Virtualization now supports external OpenID Connect authentication using Keycloak, an open source identity and access management platform. OpenID Connect is a layer that sits on top of the OAuth protocol for identifying end users and obtaining basic profile information.
VMware has also been doing its part to enhance its virtualization-related offerings. For instance, the vendor introduced new features in Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, including support for GPU workloads and lifecycle managed packages. In addition, customers can now use Kubernetes commands to provision VMs on hosts with vGPUs. Plus, VMware recently announced the technical preview of Project Capitola, a software-defined memory platform for aggregating different memory types, including dynamic RAM, persistent memory, non-volatile memory express and other future technologies.
VMware is also stretching into other directions. For example, organizations can opt for a VMware-operated hybrid cloud platform that's delivered as an on-premises service through AWS Outposts and implemented in combination with VMware Cloud on AWS. In addition, VMware has added new monitoring and capacity management capabilities that VMware Horizon customers can access through the new vRealize Cloud Universal add-on for Horizon.
Like other vendors, VMware also recognizes the growing trend toward edge computing. To this end, the vendor now offers VMware Edge, a portfolio of products for running, managing and securing edge-native apps across multiple clouds. Citrix has also developed an edge awareness, providing a unified stack of edge security features that protect internet access and provide deep network visibility, in addition to providing cloud-based network and security management through a single pane of glass.
The future of virtualization
Clearly, virtualization vendors aren't standing still, despite the proliferation of containerization and the premature assertions about the demise of the VM. All evidence suggests that virtualization vendors will continue to enhance their software products throughout 2022 and beyond, adding features, improving existing ones and boosting security. At the same time, they'll continue to embrace the cloud in multiple ways, offering platforms that support hybrid and multi-cloud scenarios and provide cloud-based services. At the same time, they'll keep pushing out to the edge, an ongoing effort that will fit neatly with their various cloud strategies.
The fundamentals of server virtualization will likely continue in their current form for some time to come, but the world around virtualization will keep changing, especially as it relates to application delivery. Virtualization vendors must take whatever steps necessary to stay ahead of the game. Given how the application industry is changing, vendors have little other choice.