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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

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
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
  • 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.