Like a painting, the topic of virtualization is subject to interpretation and can mean different things to different people. To some, virtualization is synonymous with the consolidation of hardware and the product offerings of Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware Inc. Others see virtualization used best at the operating system and, increasingly, the application level. Still others see the true value of virtualization coming outside the data center, and regard it as a business strategy unto itself.

Despite its recent ascendancy in data centers, virtualization technology has been around for quite some time, and its roots trace back all the way to the mainframe. However one defines virtualization, it’s impact on the way carriers run their businesses is likely to grow in the coming years.

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