Gone Global: Where Is Virtualization Taking Enterprise IT in the Middle East?

Gone Global: Where Is Virtualization Taking Enterprise IT in the Middle East?

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The latest figures indicate that the adoption rate of virtualization – which replaces servers and other physical computing infrastructure with software equivalents – is nearly the same in the Middle East and Africa as it is in Western Europe. But there is a key difference.

According to experts, the overall virtualization in the Middle East is about five to 10 years behind other global regions.

With that context in mind, Equinix‘s director of Cloud & IT Services Sam Johnston recently wrote a feature brief on “What’s next?” for the Middle East and virtualization, a technology that can offer greater flexibility, efficiency and cost savings.

Johnston starts by noting the region’s delayed adoption of virtualization can have advantages. For instance, early adopters of virtualized environments had to move first from physical to virtual processes, then to the cloud. But late adopters can now skip that expensive middle step and move straight from physical infrastructure to the cloud.

For organizations in the Middle East that are already fully virtualized, Johnston says a key thing to consider is moving from internal infrastructure to hosted or cloud infrastructure. He says that’s primarily a switch from a product to a service, in the same way electricity was bought a century ago as a product (from a generator or battery) and is now consumed as service off the utility grid. Since he believes future IT infrastructure will be primarily services, he advises enterprises to start looking now for service providers to meet their future needs.

Johnston writes that once an organization is fully virtualized, automation is worth considering because of different benefits, such as allowing customers to automatically scale applications, depending on user load.

Automation is where software-defined networking (SDN) enters the discussion. Johnston says there are significant benefits to network virtualization – essentially a type of SDN, where the physical and logical network topologies are separated. Network virtualization allows customers to establish a single physical connection to Equinix exchanges, including Cloud Exchange, and logical connections to multiple service providers over that physical connection.

Johnston also discusses the software-designed data center, which takes advantage of underlying hardware, storage and network virtualizations to allow enterprises to build “virtual data center” architectures on top of a physical foundation. He notes that’s particularly beneficial in public/multi-tenant data center architectures, where the size of the virtual data center can grow and shrink to meet changing demands.

Johnston adds there’s real value to be unlocked in public or multi-tenant architecture deployments, “particularly when economies of scale start to kick in, which happens in the tens and hundreds of thousands of servers range … far larger than even the largest of enterprises.”

Johnston advises Middle East enterprises seriously considering virtual data centers to think about hybrid approaches that incorporate public and private components, as well as legacy infrastructure, into a single architecture.

“This is possible either by tethering to the carrier-neutral, multi-tenant data centers where the cloud providers are present (such as Equinix), or better, by deploying your own infrastructure at these locations where it is as close as possible to the cloud services,” Johnston writes. “That way you can bypass the public Internet, improving performance, security and efficiency.”