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Over a third of enterprise servers virtual, claims virtualisation penetration index

Warwick Ashford

Over a third of all enterprise servers are virtual, according to the virtualisation penetration index or V-index launched by virtualisation management software firm Veeam.

The V-index, hosted on a site Veeam aims to develop into a community portal, shows the current virtualisation penetration rate is 39.4%.

Veeam said 91.9% of enterprises polled for the inaugural quarterly V-index said they are using virtualisation to some degree. Of those companies, 81.4% are planning to increase their level of server virtualisation in the next 12 months.

"The economic and efficiency drivers for virtualisation are so strong that it is likely that we will see 100% of companies using at least some of virtualisation within 18 months," says Ratmir Timashev, president and chief executive at Veeam.

The V-Index is aimed at providing an objective and independent view of virtualisation penetration, consolidation ratios and industry choice of hypervisor for businesses to use as benchmarks, Ratmir Timashev said.

The first survey reveals a disparity between the perceived average consolidation ratio of 9.8 virtualised servers to ever physical server and the actual consolidation ratio of 6.3:1.

This shows businesses using virtualisation believe they are getting better value out of their investment in virtualisation. But it also shows they do not have tools for monitoring, measuring and reporting accurately on their consolidation ratios, said Timashev.

"Organisations need to understand that they will realise the full benefits of virtualisation only if they have the correct tools in place to enable optimisation," Timashev told Computer Weekly.

While the results show virtualisation has become a standard technology in most enterprises, there is still room for increased penetration, Timashev said. Veeam expects consolidation ratios to increase as organisations seek greater value from their investments in virtualisation.

The V-Index shows the most popular virtualisation software is VMware (84%), followed by Microsoft Hyper-V (61%) and Citrix Xen (55.4%), with 12% using other hypervisors.

VMware is the primary hypervisor in 58% of enterprises using virtualisation, with 20.2% using Citrix Xen, 18.6% use Microsoft Hyper-V and 3% use other hypervisors.

In addition to penetration, consolidation and hypervisor trends to chart virtualisation's progress, the V-Index also seeks to promote an understanding of the obstacles in its way.

Concerns about reliability is the top reason cited by 38.8% organisations as an obstacle to virtualisation, followed by the need to wait for a hardware refresh before deployment (37%).

At joint third position are concerns around application performance and around back-up and restoration, both cited by 32.4% of organisations, and in fourth position, concerns around managing the virtual estate (30.8%).

Although reliability is currently cited as the top obstacle to virtualisation, Timashev expects this to change as a growing number of enterprises use virtualisation for mission-critical applications such as Microsoft Exchange, as some organisations are doing already.

Virtualisation is no longer reserved for non mission-critical applications, as it was by early adopters of the technology, Timashev said.

Delays due to refresh cycles are easy to understand because normal refresh cycles of 3 to 4 years have lengthened because of the global economic downturn, Timashev added.

Virtualisation is largely dependent on storage refreshes because virtualisation cannot be added without parallel changes in the infrastructure that are required to support it, such as moving from NAS to the more expensive SAM storage systems to get the most out of virtualisation, he said.

Concerns about application performance and backup and restore are legitimate concerns, but in reality there is very little system overhead when using virtualisation, especially if the organisation has the right management tools in place, Timashev explained.

"Only by using the most up to date tools that have been designed for virtual and hybrid environments can organisations get the most benefit by ensuring that backup, restoration and other processes are better, faster and more cost effective than traditional approaches," he said.

Veeam plans to update the V-Index each quarter based on online surveys conducted by Vanson Bourne in the UK, US, France and Germany, and to make it available to all companies free of charge.

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