RealTime IT News

Debunking Virtualization Myths

Only 16 percent of enterprise workloads are running on virtual machines today, according to Gartner analyst Tom Bittman, but that's about to change in a big way, with small- and mid-sized businesses leading the charge.

Bittman debunked some of the biggest virtualization myths during his presentation Tuesday at Gartner's Symposium/ITxpo conference in Orlando, Fla.

At the top of the list was the widespread notion that server virtualization is ubiquitous in the enterprise IT landscape.

While virtualization adoption got off to a "torrid" pace, Bittman said many small businesses were unable to afford the relatively steep price to get into the game. But this adoption by SMBs will drive growth for the foreseeable future, resulting in more than 50 percent of all workloads running on virtual machines by the end of 2012.

"Small business started late on virtualization," Bittman said. "While large enterprises were quick to leverage virtual machines to reduce server sprawl and power costs, as well as conserve data center space, small enterprises have been much more interested in ease of use, simplicity and operational improvements."

Bittman said that for years, VMware (NYSE: VMW) was the only player in the market, and its entry price was too high for many small companies.

"While VMware sold to many thousands of companies, many more sat on the sideline and waited," he said. "When Microsoft introduced Hyper-V in mid-2008, as small companies started deploying Windows Server 2008, they gave Hyper-V a try."

IBM (NYSE: IBM) and other virtualization software vendors have increasingly targeted SMBs with entry-level virtualization starter kits that simplify the installation process and let them test the waters for less upfront investment than offerings used by larger enterprise clients.

Another common myth surrounding virtualization is that companies do it primarily to save money, particularly those fixed costs associated with building, maintaining and powering their enormous datacenters.

"Large enterprises virtualized to save money, but later surveys show that the key is agility," Bittman said. "Small enterprises never consider saving money the primary reason to virtualize."

And they do it quickly. Gartner's study found that small companies tend to move from having none of their workloads virtualized to having all of them virtualized -- typically in one project completed within one year.

VMware, struggling to compete with Microsoft, IBM and Red Hat in the mid-market, was forced to introduce new lower-priced offerings as part of its criticalvSp here product launch.

Gartner predicts this market will accelerate "markedly" throughout 2010 with Hyper-V R2, XenServer, VMware Essentials and Red Hat's KVM-based solution, providing SMBs with plenty of options.

The third myth of virtualization, according to Gartner, is the perception that it's a commodity. Bittman said virtual infrastructure technologies are much more than static, one-off maintenance projects and instead are the driving technologies that create private cloud architectures and determine a company's cloud-computing strategies.

"What many organizations fail to recognize about virtualization is that the most important changes aren't technological," he said. "They are cultural."

"Virtualization forces users to let go of the physical implementations of their services, and deal with their provider in terms of service levels and results," he added. "When a provider becomes a cloud-computing provider, users need to do a more complete job of describing their requirements in service terms."