Dave McKnight, the first person I sat down to breakfast with at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center Monday morning, is an IT operations manager for Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.
He told me virtualization is what brought him to the event. Jones and his IT staff have consolidated workloads from 12 servers onto three IBM p550 dual-core Power-based servers, thanks to a combination of logical partitioning from IBM's Virtualization Engine software and VMware, which is splitting up different Windows and Linux workloads.
One of the things this allowed McKnight to do was run database test applications. Nothing freaky about that right? No, not at all.
But things began to get weird when Gartner analyst Tom Bittman later that morning singled out database applications as one of the most common targets for virtualization.
This was no ordinary manifestation of deja vu; for the next two days I had virtualization pounded into me as a key theme for high-tech in the new millennium.
But I won't clog this dispatch with my thoughts on Gartner's claim that virtualization has only reached 4 percent of its market potential, or that managing virtual server sprawl and securing those virtual machines is a weak area ready for an explosion of growth. Those topics will keep for another day.
Big four on top but for how long?
Something a Gartner analyst Donna Scott said in the session on IT operations management really got my attention. While IBM, HP (Quote), CA (Quote), and BMC (Quote) own 55 percent of the $10 billion operations management software market, she said, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the ease of use and lack of integration in their tools.
"There is a lot of potential vulnerability for the leading software providers if they don't get their act together."
This problem paves the way for would-be challengers Microsoft (Quote), Oracle (Quote), EMC (Quote), Symantec (Quote)and SAP (Quote), which have big footprints and have all made moves to bolster their management software products, to compete for the remaining 45 percent share.
Scott also said BMC may not be large enough to last and may get acquired; one of the challengers could step in and snap up BMC to significantly bolster their portfolios with advanced change management database software. In the next breath, she said Oracle has a 50-50 shot at becoming one of the leaders, owing to its work with RAC and grid software.
"They're making acquisitions in every other software area, so why not this software area so they can expand their footprint in the market?"