Increasing numbers of CIOs are adopting a ‘virtualisation first’ strategy

28 Oct 2009

Although more and more servers in the world today are virtualised, the market is far from secure as globally server shipments fell 21pc year-over-year.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Server Virtualisation Tracker, 16.5pc of all new servers shipped in the second quarter of 2009 (2Q09) were virtualised, an increase from 14.5pc in 2Q08.

However, actual shipments decreased 21pc year-over-year to 246,000 physical servers in 2Q09, as customers continue to limit spending on new server hardware relative to last year.

About revenue

Similarly, worldwide virtualisation software revenue declined 18.7pc year-over-year in 2Q09 to $344 million. Virtualisation licences did grow quarter-over-quarter in 2Q09. The server virtualisation market continues to shift towards the use of paid hypervisors, with paid virtualisation software now running on 60.8pc of all new server hardware shipments virtualised in 2Q09, an increase over 57.2pc in 2Q08.

“In the second quarter, IDC observed a number of signs indicating that stability is beginning to take hold in the worldwide server market,” said Matt Eastwood, group vice-president of Enterprise Platforms at IDC.

“The worldwide server installed base has aged significantly and virtual machine densities on these systems have increased sharply over the past year. As a result, the market is poised for the beginning of a significant infrastructure refresh cycle in the months ahead. IDC believes that virtualisation will be a cornerstone technology as medium and large enterprise organisations around the globe accelerate the need for more dynamic and converged infrastructure designed to support the business needs of the next economic cycle.”

Hewlett-Packard on top

Hewlett-Packard held onto the No 1 spot for worldwide new server shipments virtualised with 36pc market share. HP’s shipments declined 18pc year-over-year in 2Q09 but grew 1pc sequentially.

These results were driven primarily by its x86 Proliant server business. Dell continues to distance itself from the remainder of the field as the No 2 vendor with its market share growing 9pc over 1Q09. Dell’s relatively strong performance was driven by growth of Intel-based x86 servers in a weak market. IBM remained in the third position with 15pc market share. IBM achieved 14pc sequential growth driven by a solid performance from its converged System p and x86-based servers.

VMware continues to hold the No 1 (VMware ESX) and No 2 (VMware Server) virtualisation platforms despite revenues declining 22pc year-over-year. This was slightly more than the decline of 21pc in total x86 virtualisation licences. Microsoft saw its virtualisation licence shipments decline 16pc year-over-year, due to the continued depreciation of Virtual Server 2005.

Hyper-V increase

However, Hyper-V showed a sharp increase of 54pc, one year after its official launch and entrenching itself into fourth place while it cannibalises itself into the No 3 position, past Virtual Server 2005.

Parallels Virtuozzo rounds out the Top 5, with licence shipments declining 36pc year-over-year. Citrix XenServer showed the largest increase, growing 108pc year-over-year, due to the company changing its business model and offering the product for free with certain management functionality. It’s a bold seeding strategy that will see market share gains, but will take some time, if ever, to monetise.

“Despite economic worries, we are seeing the continued increase of paid virtualisation platforms, as it now accounts for more than 60pc of all x86 virtualisation licence shipments,” said Brett Waldman, research analyst for System Software at IDC.

“This is due to the maturation of virtualisation deployments and the need for greater control with higher quality, fine grained management tools as IT departments continue to strive towards internal cloud-computing environments.”

Virtualisation licences

Virtualisation licences represent the amount of virtualisation platform shipments for a given vendor in a given quarter. New server shipments virtualised maps the amount of virtualisation platforms shipments that are sold directly by the hardware vendors. Virtualised server revenue represents the hardware revenue of new server shipments virtualised. Virtualisation software revenue represents the software revenue associated with virtualisation platform sales.

“Server virtualisation has forever changed how customers manage their data centres,” said Michelle Bailey, research vice-president of Data Centre Trends at IDC. “’Virtualisation First’ is now the default approach for new server deployments at most enterprise IT organisations and is quickly becoming the foundational platform for cloud-computing initiatives among service providers.

“Additionally, growth in emerging regions is accelerating as the economic downturn limits the ability of organisations to raise capital. The next phase in virtualisation will require a reinvention of IT policies and procedures and continued adoption of automation tools will be key as virtual machine densities rise and customers find themselves facing virtual server sprawl issues.”

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years