Going virtual is becoming a real answer for data centre managers, according to a survey of large and small businesses.
Fifty-one per cent of North American companies are either testing virtualisation technology in their data centres or have already deployed it, according to a report released Friday by Forrester Research.
Use of virtualisation is less in Europe (35 per cent either testing or deploying it) and Asia-Pacific (21 per cent), but generally growing nonetheless.
Forrester compared results of a 2006 survey to a similar one in 2005 in which 41 per cent of companies in North America, 30 per cent in Europe and 23 per cent in Asia-Pacific were using or testing virtualisation. Although the Asia-Pacific number is lower in 2006 than 2005, Forrester notes the survey sample was smaller there than in the other regions.
Whether or not they are using virtualisation, interest in or even just awareness of virtualisation grew in all geographic regions in 2006 from 2005.
Virtualisation refers to dynamic management of a company's total information technology infrastructure. The most common use of virtualisation is in the operation of x86 servers in data centers. Virtualisation makes it possible to run multiple software applications and operating systems simultaneously on one physical server. The result is that instead or running at only 15 per cent to 20 per cent of capacity, when one server runs only one application, servers can run at 80 per cent to 90 per cent of capacity. Thus, a company could spend less money buying servers.
Although virtualisation is more likely embraced by large enterprises, awareness of it by SMBs is growing at a faster rate, the survey showed. Awareness of virtualisation by Global 2000 large enterprises grew to 92 per cent in 2006 from 87 per cent in 2005. But awareness by medium-to-large business jumped to 86 per cent from 60 per cent, and by small-to-medium businesses to 83 per cent from 62 per cent.
Server virtualisation software company, VMware, remains the dominant provider. Fifty-three per cent of those surveyed would consider VMware for virtualisation, versus just 9 per cent for Microsoft's Virtual Server product. Only one respondent mentioned the open-source Xen virtualisation software as a choice while just six mentioned Sun Microsystems' Solaris operating system, whose virtualisation feature is called Containers.
EMC, which operates VMware as a subsidiary, announced plans this week to launch an initial public offering of VMware stock.
Microsoft, which introduced its Virtual Server product in 2004, is expected to launch an updated version later this year.
Forrester surveyed 1267 enterprises with more than 1000 employees, and 503 SMBs with 100-999 employees for its report.