Virtualization Will Be a Driver for 2010 Server Refresh

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

A server refresh cycle is coming if it's not already here, spurred by virtualization, according to IDC. The market research company says as the server installed base has aged, virtual machine densities on those systems have increased sharply, and new infrastructure is needed to handle the loads.

Server vendors are at the ready as 2010 approaches, awaiting what could be a significant refresh of server hardware. Hewlett-Packard, Dell, IBM and even Cisco Systems have introduced new server hardware as the new year approaches.

That's because some IT organizations have used virtualization as a tactic to postpone server hardware upgrades during the recession. But as aging equipment comes under the pressure of increased workloads, it may be time to consider upgrades across the board.

And that upgrade cycle may already be taking hold, according to IDC's most recent data.

"The worldwide server installed base has aged significantly and virtual machine densities on these systems have increased sharply over the past year," says Matt Eastwood, group vice president of Enterprise Platforms at IDC.
"As a result, the market is poised for the beginning of a significant infrastructure refresh cycle in the months ahead," Eastwood adds. "IDC believes that virtualization will be a cornerstone technology as medium and large enterprise organizations around the globe accelerate the need for more dynamic and converged infrastructure designed to support the business needs of the next economic cycle."

IDC's most recent Worldwide Quarterly Server Virtualization Tracker recently showed a slowdown of virtualized server shipments, demonstrating that not much has really been immune from the effects of this recession.

The survey showed that 16.5 percent of all servers shipped in the second quarter of 2009 were virtualized, representing an increase from 14.5 percent during the same period a year earlier. But actual shipments of physical servers had decreased year over year by 21 percent .

Virtualization software revenue also declined year over year by 18.7 percent in the second quarter, according to IDC, but virtualization licenses grew.

The virtualization market is shifting to greater use of paid hypervisors rather than free ones, with paid now making up 60.8 percent of all new server hardware shipments virtualized in the second quarter, up from 57.2 percent during the same period a year ago.

Looking ahead, IDC says the next phase in virtualization will require a reinvention of IT policies and procedures as well as continued adoption of automation tools to manage VM density and sprawl.

Other recent virtualization market data comes from a survey from Shavlik Technologies, an IT management and automation company. The company's survey of 290 IT professionals at the VMworld conference and other seminars across the country in fall 2009 revealed that 75 percent of organizations had half their production servers as virtualized machines.

While the Shavlik survey respondents represented a group that may be more interested in virtualization technology than other IT professionals, the numbers still point to the widespread interest in virtualization technology and its promise for the future.

Other figures from the survey include the following:

  • 93 percent of IT organizations are using VM technology
  • 53 percent identified server and licensing consolidation as a major driver for adopting server virtualization
  • 52 percent ranked backup as a major driver for adopting server virtualization
  • 58 percent said they were investigating cloud computing

Other recent data paints a more conservative picture. Market research company Gartner says currently only 16 percent of workloads are running in VMs today, but Gartner predicts that number will rise to about 50 percent of x86 server workloads by the end of 2012, representing about 58 million deployed machines.
Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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