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While virtualization is at top-of-mind for enterprises and business, licensing and the pricing of evolving virtual solutions are holding up mass adoption, according to new research released by Gartner.

Gartner says the licensing of virtual solutions presents a huge headache and a “major stumbling block to widespread adoption.” Why? Because many vendors are adapting their solutions to a virtualized environment, and that means new contract structures and a need for increased monitoring and understanding for enterprises.  Organizations that don’t spend the time to understand the nuances and “diligently monitor” the way each vendor is adapting to virtual use, will experience a massive increase in costs and possible license right issues with their current contracts. On the other hand, vendors that can make it clear, concise, affordable and easy for end-users to adapt to an increasing virtualized environment stand to competitively differentiate themselves in the exploding market.

Virtualization is one of today’s fastest growing tech sectors, and one of the only markets successful at staving off decline during the economic downturn. Still, Gartner’s research shows that even though more than 80 percent of enterprises have a virtualization program, plan or project ongoing on, only 25 percent of current server workloads will be running on VMs by the end of 2010.  That fact causes the firm to conclude that virtualization is the highest-impact issue challenging operations and tech infrastructure today and through 2015.

 "Virtualization now drives efficient IT from all angles, including data center design, platform updates, and application and infrastructure modernization, as well as traditional and new delivery models, such as infrastructure utility and cloud computing. However, virtualization does take investment; the savings are not a given,” said Philip Dawson, research vice president at Gartner.

Plus, there are other related costs, too. Backup and recovery software provider Veeam Software released data recently that shows that one of the major issues with cost-savings around virtualization is how costly it is when VMs fail. The study says failed VM recovery efforts cost organizations about $400,000 annually.

Gartner indicates that as enterprises get more and more comfortable with VMs and virtualization begins to mature, enterprises will extend the use of VMs within the enterprise, going beyond storage and networking, and extending it to adopt automation and improved management around the composition of virtualized assets like servers.

Today, the analyst firm says that 90 percent of the server market is composed of x86 servers, but traditional architectures remain: that means one app running on one server at a time. The promise of virtualization has always been to unlock the value that comes from using more of the computing power of the server, and, in turn, saving money. But, in traditional architectures, running one application at one time, 80 to 90 percent of the capacity is left unused.

Organizations that successfully execute mature virtualization deployments can save more money and improve IT efficiency by experiencing faster deployments, less downtime, better disaster recovery and much more.

With all the buzz around hosted virtualized desktops (HVDs), Gartner indicates that before moving forward, enterprises need to be aware of the pitfalls. Moving thick-client computing to a server can save organizations a lot of money by cutting down on IT maintenance and management as staff monitor and manage desktops from a centralized location. But, more power and storage capacity is required to make that move successful, and that translates to additional issues and costs related to disaster recovery and more storage capacity.

"HVDs are poised to undergo explosive growth, and enterprises are anticipating the flexibility and other benefits that these devices will bring. However, enterprises need to understand the strain this technology can place on their data center infrastructures and operations, especially when thousands of employees use this platform type," says Dawson.