Server Virtualization Is Mainstream, Says Yankee Group
July 17, 2006 Timothy Prickett Morgan
IT consultancy Yankee Group has just completed its 2006 global server virtualization survey, and based on the results of that survey, has declared that server virtualization is now a mainstream technology.
Yankee has put together a two-part report based on the survey results from 1,700 MIS managers around the world, in various industries, and across a spectrum of company sizes. According to that survey, only 14 percent of the companies polled have not yet chosen a server virtualization vendor for at least one of their platforms (presumably, many companies have more than one virtualization approach, since no virtualization hypervisor yet spans all platforms). Of these, and only 4 percent have no plans to do so. About 62 percent of those polled say that they have server virtualization hypervisors in place or are in the process of migrating to one or from one to another. That leaves 24 percent of respondents who have chosen a server virtualization vendor, but who have not yet picked the products they will use, since many vendors offer more than one approach.
As you might expect, VMware, which has done more than any other vendor to commercialize the X86 and X64 server platforms to date, is in use at 55 percent of those polled by Yankee. About 45 percent of the companies polled said that they are using VMware’s ESX Server hypervisor, which runs on bare metal and which is the company’s top-end product, while 10 percent said they were using the GSX Server hypervisor, which runs inside a Linux or Windows operating system. Microsoft‘s Virtual Server 2005 has a 29 percent share of the base, and various implementations of the Xen open source hypervisor from XenSource has a tiny slice of the market–so far, at least. XenSource and its operating system partners plan on offering commercialized products and support for the Xen hypervisor later this year. The remainder of companies were presumably using the hypervisors that have shipped in Unix and proprietary environments for the past couple of years.
While the relative market share of these different products sounds about right, I have an issue with Yankee’s calling server virtualization mainstream technology. VMware says that it has over 20,000 customers, and using Yankee’s own numbers, that would seem to imply if VMware has 55 percent share of customers, there should only be about 36,400 customers in the world using server virtualization. This may be a very reasonable estimate, as it turns out, but there are tens of thousands of enterprise customers, a million or so midrange shops, and tens millions of small businesses in the world. As a percentage of that vast pyramid, then, the penetration of virtualization is a fraction of a percent of the world’s installed base. This is not mainstream at all. Three out of four businesses polled by Yankee might be using server virtualization, but three quarters of the world are not. The world is bigger than Yankee’s sample–and by a huge margin.
Server virtualization will not, in fact, go mainstream until it is invisible to the system and, many have argued, embedded into systems. People want to use server virtualization, much as they wanted memory virtualization in the 1970s. But eventually, they want it to be part of the box, not an add-on, and they don’t want to pay a huge premium for it.