VMWare: Virtualization sets the tone for the future of state IT

State information technology could look a lot different in 2020 thanks to virtualization, two executives from VMWare told StateScoop.

Virtualization is a multi-layered approach that increases relies on cloud computing to stage environments that mimic the operations of a computer, a piece of software, storage or a network. States across the country are turning to options like virtualization and cloud computing to cut costs and consolidate their IT operations. In addition, successful virtualization offerings at the state level can enable collaboration across agency borders and reduce, or eliminate, silos between state agencies.

Tim Merrigan, vice president for state, local and education for VMWare, told StateScoop that before the onset of cloud, in-house, legacy computing environments were built in a way that almost forced agencies to operate in a siloed computing environment — meaning agencies with similar missions needed to operate separately.

“Now, with the evolution of [on-premise] and off-prem clouds, you can see the ability to offer shared services as a much more legitimate option for central IT, and that’s probably the biggest evolution,” Merrigan said. “The challenge isn’t so much the technology, it’s the people and process.”

With states continuing to move out of legacy computing environments and into virtualized cloud computing environments, or using a combination of the two, states are able to move to a more digital and virtualized future across networks and machines.

David Walsh, a senior account executive for VMWare, said that in 2020, switches, routing and other physical networking operations will likely be controlled in the virtual space. In fact, the ability to allow virtual machines — which operate on cloud-based computing networks — to communicate more effectively will lead to most networking and infrastructure to be orchestrated from a central point on the network.

VMWare’s NSX, a network visualization platform designed for the software-defined data center, Walsh said, allows customers to enable secure communication between virtual machines — a key to establishing the company’s vision for the future of networking.

“When you look at it from a hardware standpoint, it’s very difficult to understand how these [virtual machines] communicate,” Walsh said. “With NSX, it became very compelling to demonstrate to customers the ability through software to allow all of this to happen.”