At the beginning of 2012, most market predictions saw bright prospects for virtualization globally. By all accounts, virtualization seemed to top the priority lists of Indian CIOs, too.
For example, an AMI-Partners study said the virtualization market in India, though at a nascent stage, held significant growth opportunities in the server, desktop, and storage space sectors. Virtual client computing remained on a steady growth path in the first half of 2012 as the industry solutions matured, according to IDC.
Gartner found that activity had intensified in the desktop virtualization space, and the firm predicted that 40 percent of all corporate desktops worldwide would be in a virtual environment by 2013.
In India, the AMI study found that organizations are adopting desktop virtualization to eliminate desktop maintenance costs. In contrast, server virtualization is being driven by the need to reduce capital expenditure, apart from easy data recovery and business continuity imperatives.
IT and IT-enabled services have been early adopters of virtualization, followed by the pharmaceutical, telecommunication, and banking/financial services and insurance verticals. As AMI-Partners said in a press release:
According to leading vendors, the India virtualization market can be segmented into three distinct phases:
Phase 1 -- The end users opt for basic consolidation in order to reduce their capital expenditure. They try to move some non-critical applications onto the virtualized servers.
Phase 2 -- The end users try to virtualize their mission critical or core applications and the entire process is automated.
Phase 3 -- The end users are empowered to focus on self service which in turn improves scalability and performance.
IDC predicts that savings from server consolidation will be invested in new IT initiatives, such as cloud computing, mobility, data analytics, and business use of social media. Thus, virtualization and server consolidation (along with the next natural step, cloud computing) are part of a wider enterprise goal of reducing IT complexity. This becomes very evident in these big-ticket virtualization exercises in the country.
- Project Panchdeep: India's largest healthcare services organization, the Employees State Insurance Corporation, has deployed 31,000 virtual desktops to deliver healthcare and insurance services at 2,200 facilities. Wipro designed a private cloud infrastructure based on a centralized datacenter (the Cisco Networking Infrastructure and NComputing thin clients). The e-governance project was completed this year.
- Bombay Stock Exchange: The oldest stock exchange in Asia had three poorly utilized datacenters, legacy servers, and 16 applications when it embarked on its consolidation and virtualization journey. Working with Microsoft to standardize development platforms, the BSE is experimenting with VMware and Hyper-V hypervisors for virtualization. It has focused on consolidating the Windows Intel server farm, which has more than 200 servers, instead of the smaller HP UNIX server farm. With applications being consolidated to six, deployment of a private cloud for noncritical applications, and the consolidation of three database platforms, annual maintenance costs have dropped 20 to 30 percent.
- Indian Railways: The in-house, centrally administered Unreserved Ticketing System caters to 20 million passengers daily. The system, based on virtualization technology with RDBMS clustering technology, is available in more than 5,000 locations. Over the years, a new design has been introduced with smart clients provided to operators. Nearly 100 ticket types are sold through the system -- based on class of travel, season, concessions for senior citizens and children, and other considerations.
- Indian Oil: The country's largest oil company, operating 10 refineries, has taken the virtualization route to storage. In this case, virtualization not only makes data easier to manage, but also provides storage capacity on demand. Being a multivendor company, Indian Oil uses virtualization across multiple platforms, operating systems, and applications. It has employed the stripe-and-mirror-everything methodology of storage virtualization to achieve a subsecond response time for ERP and SAP process integration middleware applications for more than 7,000 concurrent users.
These examples present a promising picture of a fast-maturing virtualization market, but it should be remembered that India is a large country that comes with big numbers. Individual case studies are undoubtedly impressive, but the AMI-Partners study found that only 5 to 10 percent of the total IT installed base has been virtualized. There is an untapped opportunity for growth.