The very use of the appliance terminology creates great angst for some vendors and users -- particularly for physical appliances. Strictly speaking, a highly integrated platform like Oracle's Exadata or VCE Vblock is not a true appliance; these are factory integrated systems that will require some degree of configuration and tuning, even when the software stack is integrated; they will never fit the classic notion of a "pizza box." But while such systems will not be consumed as appliances, they are certainly packaged and sold in a very appliance-like manner. Many other physical appliances will be more faithful to the concept -- they will be plug & play devices that can only deliver a very prescribed set of services.
8. Complexity: The sources of complexity within IT are easy to spot. They include the number of initialization parameters for input into starting an Oracle database (1,600) and the number of pages (2,300) of manuals to use a Cisco switch. The complexity increases, though, when we look at combining several elements such as Microsoft Exchange running on VMware. What makes this complexity worse, however, is the fact that we are not getting our money's worth: Historical studies suggest that IT organizations actually use only roughly 20% of the features and functions in a system. This results in large amounts of IT debt, whose high maintenance costs for "leaving the lights on" divert needed funds from projects that can enhance business competitiveness.
9. Evolution toward the virtual data center: As we enter the third phase of virtualization (phase 1: MF/Unix, phase 2: basic x86) we see that the higher the proportion of virtualized instances, the greater the workload mobility across distributed and connected network nodes, validating fabric and cloud computing as viable architectures. As more of the infrastructure becomes virtualized, we are reshaping IT infrastructure. We will see more of the possibilities in the future where the "fabric" will eventually have the intelligence to analyze its own properties against policy rules that create optimum paths, change them to match changing conditions and do so without requiring laborious parameter adjustments. X86 virtualization is effectively the most important technology innovation behind the modernization of the data center. With it will be a sea-change in how we view the roles of compute, network and storage elements -- from physical hardwired to logical and decoupled applications.