VMware's Raghu Raghuram, vice president of datacentre and desktop platforms, was in town recently, so we took the opportunity to grab some time with him and find out how he sees the year ahead. This is an edited version of the conversation.

Q: Where will we see product strategy heading in the next 12 months? A: You’ve seen some signs with the ESX 3.5 product line. It’s now an industry standard. We want to be sure that all workloads can work on it, also that being virtual is better than being physical because it's a better environment for systems management, and for keeping systems up and running.

Q: What new products will we see over the next 12 months? A: What we are introducing today is what gets deployed over the next 12-18 months, such as 10 gig networking, AMD’s virtualisation indexing, IO virtualisation built into cards, MPIV on storage cards, up to 32 cores. Other things that will happen in the ecosystem - we see a great wave of IO virtualisation, increasing cores, and from our own product line - I can’t talk about specifics but you’ll see us being concurrent with these technologies as they come out.

Q: What are customers telling you they want? A: We measure the rates of adoption in production. Last year it was 85 percent now it’s over 90 percent. We also ask to what extent people put applications into virtual machines, and that number stays steady in the mid-40s. The difference is that our customer base has doubled. We also ask what applications are going into VMs. Over 60 percent said enterprise applications such as ERP, SalesForce, and databases. High end applications such as transactional applications are not yet virtualised, especially since some are not on x86.

Because of today’s increased hardware performance, customers are not noticing any slight decrease in performance due to virtualisation. Also, people are saying that the flexibility they get far outweighs the virtualisation performance overhead. Also VMotion is being used by about 60 percent, HA and DRS by 42 percent, so it’s about more than just consolidation but it's gathering mainstream adoption. In the UK, the numbers are close to those of the US.

Q: Have we had the big wins with virtualisation - is the future just management? A: We're at the second innings of a nine-innings game. People say it’s a commodity which ignores the reality, which is that virtualisation incorporates the hardware - there’s lots of innovation left with rich virtualisation applications.

There’s lots of innovation left in making industry standard servers work with the reliability of the mainframe and with a value proposition at the cost of industry standard hardware. For example, how do you make this dead simple to do disaster recovery if you’re an SMB, make it the best environment to run your desktop, automate software environments from end to end? There’s a lot of room to go.

Q: Can you unpack that and project over the next three years? A: At VMworld, [VMware co-founder] Mendel [Rosenblum] showed continuous availability, version similar to fault tolerant hardware - that’s groundbreaking.

Q: What about Marathon who’ve been doing that for the last three or four years? A: They’ve been trying to but can they do it on such a universal scale such that it works for any application, any OS any hardware, making it invisible to the application and the OS? That’s one. Also, in the area of disaster recovery, in terms of long distance datacentres. In security, you have this layer under the OS under where the vulnerabilities, which is an area rife with potential.