IT shops continue to open up to virtualization — Gartner predicts the market for virtual desktop infrastructure in all industries will hit $65.7 billion in 2013 from just $1.5 billion in 2009. As that growth continues, the demand will grow for IT pros with experience in virtualization.

One such IT professional, Adam Shapiro, a former Citi IT executive who worked on that bank's global virtualization project of the past few years, has taken his talents to the tech sector, joining Breakthrough Technology Group. The company is planning to target financial institutions as smaller banks look to outside providers for the resource and energy savings of virtualization.

"Virtualization is here and companies will start adapting to it," says Shapiro, who spoke with BTN last week about his experiences with Citi and his new job at BTG. "Facebook is getting in the storage game, and you have executives from companies like Google going out and starting their own storage companies to run virtual desktops as they see the potential."

Shapiro was previously vice president and senior engineer for Citigroup Client Infrastructure Peering. While at Citigroup, he helped lead the bank's data center automation project, which reduced its global server count from more than 50 to just north of a dozen over the past couple of years, making Citi one of a handful of large banks to recently undertake server virtualization projects. Citi's virtualization initiative includes the deployment of tools such as Citrix XenDesktop and ZenApp, AppSense, VMWare View, Liquidware Stratosphere and Microsoft Sharepoint.

Shapiro says work on that project exposed him to the importance of a tech environment that can change resource allocation quickly to serve the variable IT capacity needs of different units of the same business.

"It's not as easy as you think," he says. "These 400,000 employees (at Citi) aren't in a single business division. That's the complex part of it. You have to build an environment that's scalable for different business needs."

At BTG, he'll drive architecture and operations, with a focus on design, deployment and management for Citrix and VMware, ZenApp for shared desktop, private clouds, application package as a service, and application streaming. BTG sells managed services with a specialization in SaaS services such as Exchange, archiving, and Sharepoint as well as private clouds, VDI and shared desktops.

The target market will be typically smaller companies. Shapiro envisions virtualization projects to serve firms with several hundred workstations up to about 5,000. One of the goals is to reach firms that are migrating away from the older Windows XP, to either Windows 7 or the anticipated Windows 8 over the next year. "'Package as a service' is very big, that allows a company to leverage a single package that installs across multiple regions and multiple settings," Shapiro says.

BTG, which faces competition in the managed services space from outsourcing firms such as Computer Services Inc., is focused on a number of industries. It's sharpening its focus on financial services institutions, which are increasingly looking to outsource IT delivery and hosting as a means to quickly respond to regulations and market conditions with new technology solutions despite limited internal resources. It's a challenge that's particularly acute at community banks.

"We have clients of all sizes in all verticals," says Jeff Kaplan, CEO of BTG. "We'll be doing more in the financial sector with Adam joining us...We're seeing more requests form the financial industry as firms realize there's a new venue to manage IT resources."

Kaplan says there are specific requirements related to financial clients that have contributed to BTG's own talent recruitment. "There are issues with compliance policy as well as culture. We have a client that we've been working with for awhile that has a lot of the same regulatory requirements as Citi."