Some 35pc of servers bought in Europe last year have already been virtualised and it is forecast that this year some 52pc of servers bought will be deployed in a virtualised fashion, reaping big rewards for software players like VMware and Citrix and server manufacturers like HP.
According to recent research from IDC, some 54pc of businesses not using virtualisation expect to do so in the next 18 months. While both large companies and smaller organisations are seeing virtualisation as being key to their data centre strategy, their next challenge will be to make more effective use of this capability.
“Virtualisation use has exploded since our last survey of the European market,” said Chris Ingle, consulting and research director with IDC’s Systems Group.
“Both large organisations and smaller businesses are using the technology for a wider range of applications and for business critical projects. As use of virtualisation grows the challenges around managing complexity, finding skills and software licensing become more apparent.”
Organisations are increasing their virtualisation of x86 systems for core business applications, although the majority of virtualisation is still for test and development and for network server applications. Expertise and skills are the biggest barrier to virtualisation adoption.
Growth of virtualisation as a strategy remains strong, rising from 46pc of the base to 54pc. What is interesting is that virtualisation is growing as a data centre strategy in itself rather than as part of other projects. This supports the view that virtualisation is increasingly seen as a standard for a wide range of workloads.
VMware is the clear market leader in providing virtualisation technology with some 82pc of the sample using VMware. Despite high levels of Linux use, only 3pc of the sample were using Xen as their virtualisation platform. Microsoft was used by 13pc of the sample base with various Unix technologies and mainframe accounting for 14pc.
Some 59pc of implementations have fewer than four virtual machines or partitions per physical box. The largest growth area for virtualisation use over the past year, particularly in small and medium businesses, is improving disaster recovery, backup, and enhancing availability.
Availability of skills and application vendor licensing are the factors causing most problems for virtualisation users. Around 23pc of virtualisation users report that their application vendors’ licensing is still not meeting their needs and 33pc of large businesses report that it limits use of virtualisation.
Despite seeing virtualisation as a vital tool for their business, the majority of organisations do not measure benefits and use virtual infrastructure in the same way they do physical infrastructure.
“Some companies have both a large set of applications that can be managed more effectively and, more importantly, a backlog of applications they need to deploy,” said Nathaniel Martinez, program director, European Enterprise Servers.
“Virtualisation enables these companies to rationalise their application portfolio and deploy applications more effectively. As the market matures, we expect companies to start to measure their virtualisation projects more closely and look for greater value from virtualisation across their infrastructure.”
Ingle added: “The range of approaches makes the right technology selection critical. Microsoft is making a strong push for market share later in 2008. VMware seems to be in the right place with its focus on business continuity and virtualisation managemen.; Citrix and the Unix vendors are appealing to their core markets.
“HP, IBM, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, Dell, Sun, BMC and others will look to take the lead in systems and management,” Ingle said.
By John Kennedy