Europeans don't care for virtualisation

Awareness of virtualisation has increased in Europe, but recent figures show that fewer companies are using the technology
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

For the first time, a majority of US companies is aware of, piloting or implementing virtualisation. But in Europe, while more companies are aware of the technology, indifference also appears to be growing.

According to the latest information from Forrester Research, there has been a growth in the number of European companies that are aware of virtualisation, from 62 percent in 2005 to 78 percent last year. There is also a significant growth in disinterest, with 27 percent of European organisations saying they are not interested in virtualisation compared to 16 percent in 2005.

The percentage of European companies interviewed that are using virtualisation has dropped slightly, from 24 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2006. Conversely, the number of organisations piloting virtual systems has doubled, from 6 to 12 percent, year on year.

The European results from the Forrester report may worry advocates of virtualisation — which is touted as one of the hottest technologies of the day — but they can take comfort from the situation in the US.

Just over half of US companies surveyed are already using virtualisation (40 percent) or piloting it (11 percent). The percentage of companies that say they have no interest in the technology has dropped from 23 percent to 17 percent.

Virtualisation is a technique for sharing resources on a computer, so those resources can be divided between a number of systems without having to physically split them; unlike an application such as disk partition, which divides a disk into different sections.

With virtualisation, companies can have a computer running as both a Windows and a Linux system at the same time. Resources such as disk drives, systems and printers can be allocated dynamically and changed as requirements change. Virtualisation helps all the resources to be used, which is more efficient than existing systems where resources have to be allocated at the beginning of a system's use.

For that reason, it was generally expected in the industry that once virtualisation began to be adopted, take-up would be fast, as companies began to understand the efficiency gains to be made. However, as the Forrester figures reveal, take-up in Europe has been much slower than anticipated.

One of the downsides of virtualisation has been that many companies have split systems into hundreds or even thousands of virtual systems, which can lead to much greater complexity.

The European virtualisation market is developing differently from the US one. VMware easily dominates the US market, with 53 percent market share against its nearest competitor, HP, which has 11 percent. In Europe, VMware has 35 percent market share, with four companies splitting the majority of the rest of this open market — HP on 18 percent, Microsoft Virtual Server on 11 percent, and Dell and IBM both on 10 percent. All company market-share figures are for Intel-based servers only.

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