Survey finds execs cool on virtualisation

A poll of US IT executives shows that while the technology is generating plenty of hype, only one in five may actually implement it

Server virtualisation may be one of enterprise computing’s hot new technologies, but a recent survey of corporate IT buyers shows that near-term adoption may not match the hype.

According to an August survey of IT decision-makers by US-based Sage Research, 38% say they plan to deploy server virtualisation technology within the next year. However, according to Chris Neal, head of the technology practice at Sage, the percentage of organisations that will actually follow through on these plans is likely about half that figure, or less than 20%.

Neal says the results are “inflated” due to factors out of the decision-makers’ control, primarily whether they will get the needed funding.

Moreover, other results of the survey, which involved 265 IT decision-makers at companies with 500 or more employees, show that organisations that are already using server virtualisation or that are interested in the technology are doing so mostly to increase efficiency and utilisation of their servers (84%) and lower datacentre costs (72%) — the basic and successful marketing mantra espoused by current market leader VMware.

Only 28% of respondents were interested in server virtualisation to support a shift to utility computing, while 45% were interested in more easily supporting multiple operating systems, and 51% were interested in increasing processing capabilities.

The lower interest in features outside of basic cost reduction and efficiency gain is coupled with little evidence of interest in cutting-edge alternative approaches to server virtualisation.

Eighteen percent of respondents were “very familiar” with chip-assisted virtualisation technology, such as Intel’s VT or AMD’s AMD-V. Meanwhile, a third of respondents claimed to be “very familiar” with either hardware-assisted virtualisation, which promises to offer faster performance than VMware’s more software-heavy approach, or open-source virtualisation software such as Xen, Open VZ or Virtual Iron.

That suggests that for now, VMware has less to fear from upstarts than some reports in the technology press make it appear, Neal says.

“It’s a classic technology adoption pattern: a ton of buzz, followed by not much activity, and then more sales several years later. Virtualisation is not immune from it.

“From this survey, we’re not seeing a lot of people actively researching and evaluating new technologies.

“It’s still mostly an opportunistic buy: ‘Hey, I need to buy a new server, so I might as well take a look at virtualisation.’”

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