Virtualization: It's just getting started

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Virtualization has come roaring to the forefront of the IT world. Its numerous benefits have been well-documented: added reliability; increased uptime; easier and more rapid disaster recovery; the ability to transfer server operations from one piece of hardware to another rapidly; and increased energy efficiency, which in a period of rising energy costs leads to decreased costs and lower environmental impact.

These benefits are well-known, but they don't tell the whole story. Up to this point virtualization technology has largely been leveraged to power enterprise infrastructure stalwarts such as database, Web and e-mail servers. Today, however, virtualization is poised to leap into a whole new realm of influence through use in a new range of applications, many of which are even better suited to take advantage of the benefits virtualization offers than the applications in which it is currently utilized.

One example of this is the function of file transfer protocol (FTP) and its modern, secure descendants, managed file transfer (MFT) and secure file transfer (SFT). While nearly all organizations large and small use FTP in some manner or another, it has not garnered the attention of IT technicians in their virtualization efforts like other applications have. FTP is even better-suited to virtualization than other applications for two reasons:

First, FTP is typically a customer-facing function and therefore it is considered mission-critical and requires maximum reliability. The server load-balancing and clustering functions offered by modern virtualization solutions achieve a high-availability environment unparalleled in any other deployment model.

Second, while FTP is a mission-critical function, it is not a resource-intensive one. Because FTP is a finely honed technology that has been highly refined over time, it requires little overhead in processing power. As a result, an FTP server does not require a dedicated hardware server.

These two considerations combine to make FTP an ideal candidate for virtualization because it can benefit from the reliability virtualization provides and can take advantage of the efficiencies virtualization allows.

In the coming months, virtualization will find application throughout the data center and the enterprise network and will deliver performance advances head and shoulders above anything the IT industry has seen to date. Smart IT managers will begin exploring their virtualization strategies now if they haven't begun that process already. In an era of rising energy costs, tightening budgets and increasing demands on performance and reliability of IT services, virtualization truly is a win/win, and promises to make all of our jobs easier.

Gary Shottes is president of Ipswitch File Transfer Division. He can be reached at


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