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Big Blue claims virtualization breakthrough

For IT, question boils down to cost and management. IBM says Virtual Storage Optimizer will reduce physical storage requirements associated with storing virtual images.

Twelve months ago, IBM Research began work on a project to develop an algorithm to help reduce the cost and requirements of virtual desktop storage.

To paraphrase Mel Brooks, it's good to be the R&D king.

On Tuesday, IBM, claiming to be the first vendor to crack the code on virtual desktop storage, is set to debut a technology at the VMWorld conference in Las Vegas that executives say reduces storage costs by up to 80 percent. Here's the relevant portion from the announcement about the Virtual Storage Optimizer:

The new phase of "cloud computing" gives end-users access to the critical information they need remotely, from any device, anywhere. IBM helps organizations benefit from this new model with its Virtual Infrastructure Access (VIA) services that give end users with Internet-enabled PCs and other devices the ability to access applications and data through a centrally managed computing environment. Until now, virtual desktop deployments have been hampered by the cost and complexity of managing storage, one of the most expensive hardware components of any virtual desktop environment.

Virtualization, anyone? IBM

Available beginning today, the new IBM Virtual Storage Optimizer solution for VIA directly addresses this challenge, helping businesses further optimize their virtual desktop environments, while saving time and money on storage requirements. Based on an algorithm developed by IBM Research, VSO dramatically reduces the large physical storage requirements associated with storing virtual images. The solution also allows organizations to streamline operations by creating new desktop images in mere seconds or minutes, a process which previously could take up to 30 minutes - a 75% reduction in the time required to create and deploy new virtual machines. This represents a tremendous operational savings for clients, and allows them to realize more immediate returns on their investments."

The important takeaway is that IBM claims to have resolved one of the biggest barriers in the way of the spread of storage virtualization: the cost and complexity of dealing with storage. It's not an insignificant consideration. Storage can turn into one of the--if not the--most expensive components of any virtual desktop setup. If IBM's technology lives up to the claim, that will go a long way toward allaying some of the lingering concerns about virtualization. Fact is, however, that two-thirds to three-quarters of IBM's customers have already incorporated "some sort of virtualization" into their operations, according to Jack Magoon, a business development executive in IBM Global Technology Services.

"Customers are almost universally aware of desktop virtualization technologies that are emerging...the majority of them have some sort of pilot or have tried something in their departments or are playing with it in some fashion," said Magoon. "We're in the phase where people recognize it's out there and they're trying to figure how and when to take advantage of it."

IBM currently has no plans to break out its VSO technology on its own. Magoon said it will be sold to customers as part of the menu of services available through IBM Global Services.