There is little doubt that virtualisation lies at the foundation of intensive and ongoing scrutiny by business into the true value and efficiency of ICT strategies.

If there is one thing to be learned from the ongoing global socio-economic shift, it is that we cannot afford to underestimate or overlook the important role that information, communication and digital lifestyle technology plays in business.

New systems, enhanced processes and procedures, and customer relationship management equates to increased competitive advantage. The era of multiple, co-sourced ICT management is here, and it is changing the way businesses compete, engage their markets and fight for market share.

During challenging periods of volatile economic activity, decision makers have to know whether their infrastructure and strategies are making a real contribution to meeting requirements and actually lifting levels of service. The days of throwing money at technology and changing the business to suit infrastructure are long gone.

Now managers are looking to hone in on functionality, features and real benefits that make a true difference to operation. That is where virtualisation comes into the picture.

True to the nature of technology, ICT infrastructure is changing and will continue to become more virtualised and dispersed, with data being spread across a variety of platforms, on multiple hard drives, servers, data centres and continents.

At the same time the advent of virtualisation as a new, progressive platform for data and infrastructure management represents the next step in worldwide information use, application and leverage. It suggests that the digital world is making significant progress towards physical managed rather than logically managed infrastructure by means of virtualisation.

There are a number of advantages associated with this major trend. Chief amongst these is centralised information and management, enhanced operations, lower cost of investment, a more expedient way of applying resources and run applications.

Essentially virtualisation is presenting companies with a more practical means of extracting the maximum benefit of infrastructure. With the growth of managed ICT services, it is also clear that companies are discovering how to improve their output and service delivery using cloud computing and virtual channels of infrastructure use.

Looking ahead, it is clear that the majority of commercially-viable businesses will base much of its ICT investment strategy and use policy on the acquisition and manipulation of advantages inherent within virtualisation.