Virtualised machines to top physical this year

More virtual machines will ship by the end of this year than physical ones, with the ratio between the two hitting three to two by 2013, according to an IDC study.

The number of virtual machines (VMs) "shipping" will overtake physical machines by 10 per cent this year. Last year, the number of server systems featuring virtualisation climbed 26.5 per cent to 358,000 across Western Europe. Each virtual server can run many VMs.

IDC analyst Giorgio Nebuloni explained: "In 2008, approximately 18.3 per cent of all servers shipped in Western Europe were virtualised, against 14.6 per cent in 2007, and we expect the percentage to grow to almost 21 per cent in 2010. More importantly, last year, and for the first time ever, the number of virtual machine (VM) shipments exceeded the number of physical servers shipped, topping two million units."

His colleague suggested the move to virualisation is largely driven by the fall in hardware spending.

"We believe the current economic crisis to be increasingly intertwined with virtualisation adoption, as the combined need to squeeze costs with the existing assets and the weak demand for new hardware are accelerating its technological impact within customer installed bases," said Nathaniel Martinez, programme director for European enterprise servers at IDC, in a statement.

IDC warned that virtualisation can lead to "sprawling environments," advising admins to keep an eye on management and ensure proper practices are put in place to prevent too much complexity.

Nebuloni said: "[In] many cases new practices will have to be put in place, responding to the increasing overlap in the internal areas of responsibility of the IT staff, as storage, server, and network administrators will need to cooperate more closely to tackle interconnected issues."

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