Businesses will need to open their wallets if they want to be technology leaders as virtualisation is expensive, Gartner analyst, Thomas Bittman claims.
Speaking at Gartner's infrastructure, operations and data centre summit in Sydney, Bittman said the number of virtual machines will rise from 500,000 currently in use to three million by 2009.
However, he claims it will be an expensive exercise for businesses and told IT managers to "stick it out" until the problems with virtualisation, such as licencing, support and emerging technologies are ironed-out.
"There aren't many good virtualisation vendors out there at the moment and virtualisation is still expensive," Bittman claims, adding that he believes virtualisation will be a free service in the near future.
He said business should build a strong data centre governance strategy to fend-off vendors, which will begin vying for third party managerial control of virtualisation.
"Vendors will be competing for [data centre] governance so you need to have a solid strategy," Bittman said.
Gartner senior analyst, Phil Sargent, said virtualisation will be part of nearly every aspect of IT by 2015 and recommended IT managers query vendors now about how they will accommodate their application with the new technology.
"Virtualisation will bring more consumer client applications into the data centre, which needs to be discussed with vendors as well," Sargent said.
"There are still [problems] with virtualisation in support and software licencing and not everything can be virtualised; this will clear-up over the next two to four years."
Real Time Infrastructure (RTI), a term coined by Gartner, encapsulates the benefits in improved data centre policies, SLAs, agility and cost derived from sharing infrastructure resources between businesses and internal departments.
SOA and web services, as a part of RTI, could become a "nightmare" for data centres as businesses and vendors explore the model, according to Bittman.
He said application failure will be the number one cause of unplanned downtime and will increase in businesses that use SOAs.
He cited Gartner statistics that found unplanned downtime in SOA-based businesses with be caused by application failure (60 percent), operator error (20 percent), and environmental factors (20 percent).
In contrast, unplanned downtime in businesses that are not SOA-based will be caused by application failure (40 percent), operator error (40 percent), and environmental factors (20 percent).
He said the cumbersome RTI offerings of big companies like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and IBM will falter as small dynamic players will better appeal to the market.
Power and cooling concerns will die out like last years' fashion with the arrival of specialist technology in 2011, but Bittman said data centres will need to endure insufficient technology until then.
Sargent pointed out increasing densities and shrinking technology is causing grief with IT managers trying to cap power use in their data centres.
Windows and Linux will split over the next few years to meet the rising demands in thin computing which will rival the need for a centralised operating system.
"The need for a deep, general Windows and Linux will grow, but thin computing will demand a [stripped down] OS which will basically be a smaller runtime application for streaming to thin clients," Bittman said.