Virtualization survey results

Virtualization study indicates the beginning of phase 2 of the adoption of virtual servers and desktops.

One of my priorities when coming to The 451 Group was to expand the company's primary research capabilities. This means a strong focus on both demand- and supply-side research.  I've been reviewing the results of a recent quick virtualization adoption survey that was executed by several of my colleagues. While the detailed study results are proprietary, I  thought that some of the results would be of interest to you.

Three points from the virtualization study

  • Phase 2 of virtualization is starting, and it could be much larger than Phase 1. In our definition, Phase 1 is the first 30% of total servers that are virtualized. At that point, management and automation tools become necessary, and users begin to look for areas to virtualize other than just test/dev and file/print servers, which we believe is Phase 2.
  • VMware comes out much stronger than we had anticipated. Survey results show that VMware is the most trusted virtualization vendor, and that cost, to this point, is NOT the most important selection criteria. At the same time, in talking with partners, we heard disappointment surrounding the progress of others in the market-especially with Microsoft, who still does not have anywhere close to a “good enough” solution to take significant market share.
  • One critical component to understand is that desktop virtualization is not the “next greatest area of virtualization” - it is more of a long slog. The ROI on server virtualization was such that it became one of the very few hyper-growth areas in the software industry. Desktop virtualization is different: it has an ROI, but the costs and returns are still being justified. One channel partner said “it is like trading cheap storage for expensive storage.” So we believe that VMware is the market share winner currently, but they are pricing fairly low to keep Citrix and Microsoft out of this market as long as they can.

Snapshot analysis

This survey largely focused on server and desktop virtualization and did not include all virtualization technologies. A modest sample of 75 U.S. and European IT decision makers took part in the study which completed at the end of December 2009. Adoption of products supporting access virtualization, application virtualization, network virtualization, storage virtualization and both security and management of virtualized environments were not explored in any detail in this study.

It wasn't at all surprising to me that respondents suggested that they were only now entering into Phase 2 of virtualizing their IT infrastructure.  Part of this is the steady increase in confidence IT decision makers have in their organization's ability to deploy and manage virtual servers and virtual desktop solutions. It is also clear that these decision makers understand that some workloads are not well suited for this approach to deployment.  Applications needing extreme performance or scaleability, for example, are best deployed on physical servers today. I was surprised at how low cost was on respondent's list of priorities for the selection of virtualization technology. It would appear that decision makers feel that the cost savings offered by the technology largely masks cost differences between suppliers' products. These findings seem to challenge some of the marketing statements suppliers such as Citrix, Microsoft, Novell and Red Hat have presented over the last several years.