My son and his best friend were always industrious kids. In their early teens, their idea of a good time was to make money by creating cool web sites for their friends and local business. After college my son landed a job at Yahoo, and his friend landed an almost identical job at Google.

On a lark, and in his spare time, the friend created a website that offered discounted, flatscreen TV, wall mounting brackets, which he sourced real cheap from an online supplier overseas. He bought the computer time for the site from a hosting facility, and wrote the application so it forwarded all purchase requests from his site directly to the supplier, who then shipped the product directly to the customer with the company name of my son's friend on the box.

That little site now brings in more money per week than his job at Google, and he does nothing!

Virtual boss, virtual site, virtual store, virtual everything, except the cash. The true virtual organisation.

The benefits of using virtualisation to drive out costs are obvious, and that is why virtualisation is taking hold in a huge way within many organisations.  Many have begun using server virtualisation as a way to consolidate infrastructure by collapsing their physical servers into fewer more efficient blade servers. Server virtualisation reduces floor space, power, and cooling requirements, which translates to fewer more efficient virtualised data centres, potentially saving huge amounts of money.
The wide adoption of server virtualisation has been one of the enabling factors in the movement towards the "virtual organisation" (get ready to adopt the new "VO" acronym).

The next enabling technology will be storage virtualisation. Think about it. Once all the application servers are collapsed into a virtual server environment, it no longer matters which hardware vendor is used to host the application. When you apply the same concepts to storage, then it no longer matters which storage vendor is used. Since storage virtualisation also enables complete data mobility - the ability to move data between physical storage locations while the applications are live - the organisation now has complete freedom from vendor lock-in and enables them to purchase storage from any vendor, which again reduces costs.

As storage virtualisation is introduced, the actual physical location of the data becomes less important, and the storage vendor used to house that data becomes irrelevant. The data can be anywhere and everywhere. The ability to abstract the computing resources from the data storage resources means both become a commodity.

The intelligence required to create policies for storage provisioning, data protection, data replication and data recovery will all be implemented as part of the the virtual abstraction layer. Policy management can be applied throughout the abstraction layer across the entire organization. When you think about it, this is a great solution for the federal government where the need to seamlessly and securely move data between geographically dispersed organisations is important. 

With storage virtualisation, all the policies typically required for application performance, security and data protection can be created within the virtualisation layer, and applied automatically in the same manner across the entire organisation. Operational automation keeps it simple, which saves even more money.

Imagine the competetive and financial benefits of being able to securely outsource mundane operations to the cloud so your IT folks can focus on the core aspects of the business. (Cloud companies such as have been very succesful.) If you can virtualise your existing physical infrastructure to the point where you can create an internal cloud (or leverage external cloud providers for the more costly aspects of running IT) you can turn the business into a virtual organisation, so you'll have more time to practice your Golf swing. 

Christopher Poelker is the author of Storage Area Networks for Dummies, and he is currently the vice president of Enterprise Solutions at FalconStor Software.