There exists a belief by some that IT environments, and therefore the backup of those environments, is becoming increasingly homogeneous. I understand the belief. At the same time, it’s paradoxical that people can on one hand proclaim increasing homogeneity on one hand and on the other hand predict the death of Windows.

Paul Maritz, a former Microsoft employee who now is VMware’s CEO, noted two years ago at VMworld

“Hardware is going to virtualization and the role of abstracted services to applications is going to new frameworks,” he said. “The traditional operating system won’t disappear .. but is one component that need to fit into this world.”

This was widely touted in the press as an ex-Microsoft executive “virtually pronouncing” the death of Windows.

I think the world is a little more complicated than that.

I noted in a previous post that I thought Dave Russell over at Gartner was on to something when he talked about “Recovery Nirvana.”   There appears to me to be increasing heterogeneity in the marketplace around backup – and yet a desire for homogeneous recovery.

What’s driving the marketplace backup heterogeneity? It’s not the old-school thinking about operating systems being the focal point of IT diversity – while operating systems continue to be a real source of heterogeneity, there are other evolving sources as well. At the hypervisor level, Microsoft is leading the charge against the marketplace dominance of VMware with its Windows 8 Hyper-V implementation. And that doesn’t even begin to discuss XenServer, Xen, KVM, and other hypervisors each of which have unique backup characteristics. At the storage level, SANs and unified storage implementations are coming down-market into smaller businesses at an amazing clip led by EMC with its VNX and VNXe line and NetApp with its FAS2000 series as well as players such as Nexsan. And applications are becoming more powerful, and complex, and are bringing their own specific breed of heterogeneity around backup as customers become more demanding about backup capability.

This has some dramatic impacts on data protection in the future. In my next post in this series, we’ll discuss what this practically means not only for modern backup but for future backup as well.