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Virtualisation to grow steadily in 2010

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With South African companies becoming increasingly concerned about IT acquisition and energy costs, the demand for virtualisation technologies should grow steadily in 2010 believes Herman van Heerden, Managing Director of Starship Systems.

‚Gartner predicted back in 2007 that virtualisation will be the single most important technology for IT departments by 2010. Then in 2009, virtualisation was placed at the pinnacle of Gartner’s list of top 10 strategic technologies. And, although South Africa lags slightly behind developed markets, we are certainly seeing a markedly-growing number of local businesses adopting virtualisation technologies. So, it’s happening,‚ says Herman van Heerden, managing director of Starship Systems, a local technology company which specialises in the design, supply and implementation of virtualisation technologies.

He says the trend to adopt virtualisation in South Africa is largely driven by the need to curb hardware and software acquisition costs in the face of the economic downturn, and the growing consciousness of the importance of adopting ‚green’ business practices and the need to conserve electricity.

‚Virtualisation represents a real opportunity to slash costs. By running more virtual machines on fewer physical servers, companies can get more out of their existing infrastructure and they don’t need to deploy more servers to meet their growing needs. Many companies are even cutting back on the number of servers in the server room because they can now perform the same tasks using fewer physical resources.

‚Running fewer machines translates into lower operational costs because electricity consumption is less, server room cooling costs are lower and they don’t need a rambling server room to house all their equipment,‚ he says.

While virtualisation is certainly gaining traction in this country, van Heerden says his company still faces some challenges when it comes to ‚selling’ the concept of virtualisation to the local market.

This, he says, is largely due to a lack of understanding of virtualisation technologies, what they can and can’t do, and the products available on the market and their pitfalls.

‚Virtualisation is still a relatively new concept. Many companies seem to have the idea that virtualisation is a solution to everything. But that’s a misguided view. It’s like believing that an ERP system will magically solve all manufacturing issues.

‚So, there are obvious challenges when it comes to selling the idea to a company that has vaguely heard about the technology and has misconceptions about what it can do.

‚Then there are companies that have jumped head first into virtualisation without the necessary know-how or expertise. The result is a failed implementation and a lacklustre opinion of virtualisation. These companies need some persuading to go the distance with a third party specialist and give virtualisation a second try,‚ says van Heerden.

Another challenge the company faces, as a developer of virtualisation solutions, is the high level of brand consciousness amongst local companies.

‚We’ve been a player in virtualisation in South Africa for four years and we’ve developed a number of tools under our NEBULA product name to accompany our server systems. These tools fill the gap in system interoperability and ensure a positive user experience.

‚Unfortunately, when considering virtualisation, many companies look to the handful of the more well-known vendors instead of evaluating technologies based on their merits and choosing a solution that fits their business requirements. What this means is that we have to fight a little harder to get our own-developed solutions noticed.

‚We are constantly competing with the big marketing budgets of the ‚name’ brands and we have to prove our worth. But, we are up to the challenge, and the growth of our business is proof that we are getting it right.‚

Van Heerden concludes: ‚2010 is set to be an exciting year in the virtualisation space. Virtualisation is set to grow and so are we.‚

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