Virtualisation adoption gathers pace

Companies are increasingly looking to virtualisation to improve their server consolidation, new research has suggested.

According to market research firm IDC, 35 per cent of servers purchased in 2007 were virtualised. But it predicted this will rise to 52 per cent in 2008, while 54 per cent of those not already deploying virtual machines (VM) expect to do so in the next 18 months.

"Virtualisation use has exploded since our last survey of the European market," said Chris Ingle, consulting and research director, IDC Systems Group.

The research revealed 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.

But increased adoption was leading to maturity issues. "As use of virtualisation grows the challenges around managing complexity, finding skills and software licensing become more apparent," said Ingle.

Almost one in four (23 per cent) of virtualisation users report that their application vendors' licensing is still not meeting their needs and one third of large businesses report that this limits use of virtualisation.

The idea of freeing operating system components from the physical hardware is also growing as a data centre strategy in itself, rising from 46 per cent of large European organisations surveyed to 54 per cent. The IDC report said this supports the view that virtualisation is increasingly seen as a standard for a wide range of workloads.

Yet, the survey found 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.

But nearly two thirds (59 per cent) of implementations had fewer than four VMs or partitions per physical box.

In terms of market share, VMware remains the clear leader among 82 per cent of the sample. But despite high levels of Linux use, only three per cent of the sample were using Xen from Citrix as their virtualisation platform.

And, although it only launched its own hypervisor less than three weeks ago, Microsoft's Hyper-V was used by 13 per cent of the sample base, while various Unix technologies and mainframe accounted for 14 per cent.

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 virtualization management; 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."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.