For what seems like 20 years, IT industry analysts, pundits, vendors and CIOs have been advertising the coming “unification of IT”-  breaking down the silos of traditional enterprise IT infrastructure and teams: systems, apps, networks and storage. Despite all this talk and all the supposed agents of change, from processes (see ITIL), to centralized technology (see CMDBs) to philosophies (see “Business-aligned IT”), nothing’s really driven a truck through those silo walls. But, virtualization may finally change that.

As virtualization moves from the test lab to the data-center or server room of almost every sized business, IT teams can’t help but first decry -- then deal with -- the fact that lines of responsibility, visibility, and control are blurred by this technology. Servers can move from one host to another, from one network port or device to another, taking their traffic and security needs with them. Server teams now depend on the storage team to guarantee I/O and space requirements from newly networked storage. The storage team may require security & bandwidth policies from the network team. It’s all inter-related – really (not virtually).

This confusion forces those folks to talk – to determine how they are going to plan for and execute changes (ITIL), and how they are going to track all these pieces (CMDB), so that they can collectively deliver the great value to the business that virtualization promises (Business- aligned IT). Those parenthetical themes may owe their growth to virtualization, when it’s all said and done.

For sure, it’s been hyped. “Virtualization changes everything!” they say at conference after conference. Lots of agendas are attached to those claims, but of all the hyped facets of this technology wave, from rapid development and server cost savings, to energy-reductions and cloud computing, virtualization’s lasting legacy could be the role it plays in making network, server and storage teams talk to each other without a pointed finger between them.