Here is the latest finding on Server Virtualization based on real surveys, across the world.
Virtualization has its roots in the mainframe era of the 1960s, and is particularly associated with IBM, whose CP-67/CMS was the first commercial mainframe operating system to support a virtual machine architecture in 1968. (CP stands for Control Program, while CMS stands for Console Monitor System; CP created the virtual machines, which ran the user-facing CMS.)
PC-era virtualization kicked off in 1987 with Insignia Solutions’ SoftPC, which allowed DOS programs to run on Unix workstations. A Mac version that also supported Windows applications appeared in 1989, followed by SoftWindows bundles containing SoftPC and a copy of Windows. Another notable PC virtualisation pioneer was Connectix, whose Virtual PC and Virtual Server products were acquired by Microsoft in 2003 and re-released in 2006 and 2004 respectively. VMware, the current market leader in virtualization, released its first product, VMware Workstation, in 1999.
VMware Workstation is still widely used today, but the company’s most significant releases were arguably its 2001 server virtualisation products — GSX Server and ESX Server. GSX Server is an example of a Type 2 (or hosted) hypervisor that, like the Workstation product, runs on top of a conventional operating system. ESXi Server is a more efficient Type 1 (or ‘bare metal’) hypervisor that runs directly on the underlying hardware. From these beginnings, VMware has evolved a market-leading ecosystem of virtualization products based around its vSphere platform.
Virtualization has become the key technology underpinning ‘cloud-era’ IT infrastructure because the ability to deploy virtual instances of servers, desktop PCs, storage devices and network resources allows existing hardware to be utilised efficiently, and makes for much better manageability, flexibility and scalability.
Server virtualization makes perfect sense both for in-house data centres and for service providers in the public cloud. In both cases, utilising servers to maximum efficiency and having the ability to scale virtual server provision rapidly as workload demand ebbs and flows is vital to keeping costs down and (if you’re a service provider) revenues up.
A recent survey by market research company Vanson Bourne on behalf of networking vendor Brocade shows the level of penetration of server virtualization in company data centres. This study canvassed 1,750 IT decision-makers and office workers in companies ranging in size from 500 to over 3,000 employees in Europe (UK, France, Germany) and the USA.
Brocade’s survey found that, on average, companies currently virtualize 46 percent of their servers, with more than half virtualizing at least 40 percent of their servers. In two years’ time, the respondents expect 59 percent of their servers to be virtualized, on average, with three quarters of companies virtualizing at least 40 percent of their servers. Although it’s well established, server virtualization is clearly still on the rise.
Another recent survey, conducted by storage virtualization specialist DataCore, canvassed 477 IT professionals worldwide, from a broad range of company sizes and industry sectors, and found VMware (vSphere) to be the clear leader in server virtualization software, followed by Microsoft (HyperV) and Citrix (XenServer).
Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure (June 2013) backs up this finding, placing VMware and Microsoft in the ‘leaders’ quadrant, Citrix and Oracle as sole occupants of ‘visionaries’ and ‘challengers’ respectively, with Parallels and Red Hat in the ‘niche players’ corner.