Is virtualization becoming mainstream?

Toronto – It is a question that the channel would like to have an answer to.

Will virtualization, which has taken the enterprise space by storm over the last five years thanks in large part to VMWare (NYSE: VMW) who established the market, ever capture the mindset of the small-to-medium business market?

According to Frank Gillett, an analyst who has been tracking the virtualization market for Forrester Research in Boston, more than 21 per cent of SMBs with x86 servers have implemented virtualization today with another 11 per cent or so committed to a deployment in the next year.

“That is a total of 32 per cent and I think these numbers underestimate the results of what is happening. There are a lot of SMBs doing this and a lot more who want to do it,” Gillett said. Forrester has pegged the SMB market as being 1,000 employees or less.

At the VForum in Toronto, Gillett outlined several reasons and figures that suggest the SMB market in Canada, the U.S. and in Europe is embracing virtualization and is poised to make it a mainstream method for server, storage and management consolidation.

Gillett said to the more than 1,500 in attendance at the event, held here, that only 23 per cent of SMBs have some kind of virtualization today. And, only 24 per cent in the enterprise have virtualization.

“This technology is going mainstream in the x86 server space,” he said.

Paul Edwards, SMB and channels analyst for IDC Canada, said that virtualization will hit the “M” rather than the “S” in SMB.

“In the mid-market and enterprise the key driver is consolidation and TCO (total cost of ownership) and it is all about reducing the infrastructure and increasing the value of that infrastructure and what it brings to the business,” Edwards said.

The two most prominent vendors in this space is VMWare and Microsoft, who just released its Hyper-V competitive product against Hypervisor.

“These are the two players in the market and they are ultimately driving the market adoption of virtualization,” Edwards added.

As for smaller customers, Brian Bourne, the president of CMS Consulting Inc. of Toronto said it is hard to make a virtualization case for those environments.

“In a 20,000 sq.ft. data center when you reduce that by 20 per cent it makes sense. If a small customer with 10 or even say 20 servers takes away three off the grid that is not much of a cost savings,” Bourne said.

Derick Wong, senior product manager, security/management for Microsoft Canada, based in Mississauga, Ont., said the entry-level point for server virtualization is between 100 and 200 seats.

But, Gillett said that there are many similarities between SMB and enterprise customers that would make virtualization more of a mainstream fit.

From his research SMBs have the same motivation as enterprise customers. For example, 49 per cent of SMBs and enterprise customers believe it is very important to improve disaster recovery through virtualization.

About 36 per cent of SMBs said it is very important to improve server manageability and flexibility and 41 per cent of the enterprise agree.

Improving power savings was virtually the same between SMBs (23 per cent) and enterprise (21 per cent) customers.

There wasn’t much separation with cutting hardware costs between SMBs and enterprise customers polled. More than 38 per cent of SMBs marked it as very important, while 43 per cent of enterprise IT managers thought it was as important.

The same kind of applications such as databases and CRM run through SMBs as enterprise, Gillett continued.

About 26 per cent of SMBs believe they can consolidation email, while 28 per cent of those who run enterprise IT environments say email can be virtualized.

“Do not sell this on cost savings alone, but on a better way to look a creating and sharing IT infrastructure and virtualization is the catalyst for this,” Gillett said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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