Dan Woods, the "Jargon Spy" at Forbes, points out that virtualizing servers to improve efficiency and save money is all well and good, but it's also important to follow up by making appropriate organizational changes to every aspect of business computing.

The power of virtualization is about to be leveraged in ways that provide substantially more business value than just server consolidation. Before too long, virtualized desktops will become more powerful and manageable, and data centers will become even more flexible as every layer of the computing stack becomes virtualized.

Woods notes the virtualized world can become a "management nightmare" as the number of virtual devices increases. Vendors such as Microsoft, Citrix, and VMware are introducing management umbrella-style products to help IT experts keep control over newly virtualized systems.

Consider the typical organization of the data center, with a hardware department, a network department and a storage department. The application and database staff are used to working together, but there are clear separations between the other layers and organizational structure reflects that. In the virtualized world, the virtual machine, and eventually the unit of work, ignores these separations. Managing a virtualized environment means managing all of these layers at once. So how will the typical organization have to change? Without changes, the result will be a ridiculous slowdown as virtual machines are passed among departments, each performing its siloed function.

This is one of those times when technology for technology's sake isn't enough. It has to be bolstered by new management approaches that take into account the fact that new ways of handling an organization's bits and bytes require new ways of doing everything else as well.

--Don Willmott