Virtualization leader is Down Under

SYDNEY – Twice as many Australian businesses are using virtualization than the rest of the world, according to industry analysts.

Between eight and nine per cent of medium to enterprise businesses are virtualizing their x86 servers, Gartner says, while global uptake remains at about four to five percent.

Analysts admit the numbers are surprising given Gartner forecasts that U.S. businesses will spend US$942.2 billion on IT, almost 20 times more than the US$47.8 billion which will be spent by Australian organizations.

Gartner’s servers and storage vice-president Phil Sargeant said the figures, derived from research into organizational IT maturity, show Australians are spearheading virtualization uptake. “The deployment of virtualization is greater in Australia than anywhere else in the world [and] these figures have been backed up by VMware and the like,” Sargeant said, adding the results were based in part on a mix of consumer and vendor feedback.

“Uptake of virtualisation has been growing steadily for the past few years, and has accelerated during the last 12 months.” The IT maturity survey, produced early this year, canvassed issues including the perception of IT by the business and the use of emerging technology.

“Australia has a mature IT environment and has always been good at adopting technology,” Sargeant said, “and businesses have embraced it and reaped the cost savings.” His estimates include all phases of virtualization implementation, from testing and pilots to production.

But the figure is even higher, according to Unisys, which said the eight to nine per cent adoption includes only virtualized systems in production. Speaking at a CIO magazine virtualization conference, Australia and New Zealand services lead for the Infrastructure Management Suite Ben Robinson said the figure would be even higher if all x86 server virtualization deployments were considered.

Numbers are swelling from new organizations adopting virtualization for the cash savings of hardware consolidation and smaller power bills.

The old hands, Sargeant says, have milked their savings and are still using virtualization for the improved availability and agility it offers.

The technology took off around 2004 when it hit x86 servers and has maintained momentum thanks largely to the success of innovators such as VMware, former IDC senior analyst Graham Penn said.

While he supports the figures suggested by Sergeant, he warns virtualization by its nature can blur statistics.

“SMBs usually only virtualise a few machines, whereas for enterprises it is a completely different challenge that is exponentially more complex,” Penn said. “Its relatively easy for medium businesses to deploy virtualisation because they are only dealing with a dozen or so machines, but the scale is hugely different for enterprises.

“You need to be very careful how you use statistics [because] the percentages could mean virtualization is used on one machine in a lab, or a few for finance and so on. The Australian statistics are absolutely true because we have, with New Zealand, kept ahead of the rest of the world in many fields of IT .”

Statistics from Forrester Research claim more than 21 per cent of SMBs with x86 servers have implemented virtualization, with another 11 per cent committed to a deployment next year.

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