According to a new study by TheInfoPro, a market research company for the IT industry 75% of users report using VMware today, and nearly 2/3rds report having tested an alternative hypervisor with Microsoft and Citrix most often mentioned. Of those who have tested an alternative, 27% plan to use the it, while an additional 20% report that they may use it.

However, when VMware customers were asked if would switch to an alternative only 2% cited firm plans to do so with an additional 9% considering it.

This data suggests that some of the VMware customer base is open to running additional hypervisors in their environment, but that very few VMware customers are considering replacing their VMware enviroment with one from either Microsoft or Citrix.

“Much of the strength of the VMware story is predicated on a homogeneous population of VMware servers under control of VMware management utilities,” said Bob Gill, managing director of server research for TheInfoPro. “The more heterogeneous the environment, the less VMware is positioned in the central infrastructural layer in the data center.”

The tight coupling of VMware’s hypervisor strategy, and its management stack creates both an opportunity and an issue for VMware. The opportunity, as has been written about here is to use virtualization as a catalyst to justify and deliver a new virtualization aware (and VMware specific) management stack to the enterprise. The issue is that as soon as the enterprise becomes in any meaningful way a multi-hypervisor world, a management stack that is specific to any one hypervisor becomes relatively less attractive. This fact is not lost upon the third party virtualization management vendors who have already been adding support for non-VMware hypervisors to their products as documented in this post.

We reiterate our previous advice regarding management stacks for virtualization. If you are a VMware shop and  you are going to stay a VMware shop you should logically look first to VMware for management offerings that build upon your choice of hypervisor. As your environment grows in scale and in terms of the applications and constituencies that you serve you may well find that you have outgrown the offerings from VMware and you should consider offerings from vendors who focus upon virtualization management like Hyper9, Embotics, newScale, and Surgient.

If you are, or are likely to become a multi-hypervisor company, then you should take an entirely different approach. In this case, you should draw a line somewhere above the hypervisor and declare what is below that line to be the virtualization platform. For example functionality like VMotion, DRS, Virtual Networking, and the basic administration consoles that ship with the hypervisor based products should be considered as part of the platform. You should then build out a stack of Virtualization Management products that deliver best in class functionality and work across both or all of your virtualization platforms. Some good examples of this cross platform approach would be to use Surgient for self-service provisioning of test, development and training workloads, and to use newScale to build a cross-platform service catalog.

The entire TheInfoPro press release is copied in below. For more information about TheInfoPro visit their web site.

New York – December 8, 2009 – TheInfoPro, an independent research company for the IT industry, today released its fall 2009 Server Study showing slow but recovering x86 server deployments, contrasted by strong growth in deployments of VMware, Windows Server and Linux, primarily Red Hat.

VMware is still the leading vendor in use and in plan for server virtualization, and few users report firm plans to switch from VMware to Hyper-V. However, this parallel deployment of Hyper-V, Citrix and Red Hat virtualization capabilities could signal a challenge to VMware’s dominance; this implies that heterogeneous environments will be commonplace, where VMware is used for production, and Hyper-V may grow through deployments for development and testing.

“Much of the strength of the VMware story is predicated on a homogeneous population of VMware servers under control of VMware management utilities,” said Bob Gill, managing director of server research for TheInfoPro. “The more heterogeneous the environment, the less VMware is positioned in the central infrastructural layer in the data center.”

Key Data in Server Hardware

TheInfoPro’s Server Study reflects a depressed server hardware market caused by a confluence of the economic downturn and the impact of server consolidation and virtualization that has been a top priority for the past several years:

  • One technology showing rapid penetration among respondents is server-driven desktop replacements/appliances. With the halo effect of server virtualization drawing interest to desktop virtualization, the percentage of users citing such technology as in use rose from 9% in Wave 7 to 18% in Wave 8. Interestingly, the percentage of those expressing no plans remained fairly constant, showing that pent-up demand is being satisfied, but new demand is not yet appearing.
  • 10Gbps switches took the top spot in the Server Hardware Heat Index, as users prepare to upgrade their networking infrastructure for increasingly dense and demanding servers. Two percent (2%) report such switches in pilot, 5% in near-term plan, and 16% of the sample cited in long-term plan, which extends through Q3 2010.

Key Data in Server Software

This study showed that growth in infrastructure server software deployments, such as operating systems and virtualization software, continues much more strongly than growth in hardware units, driven by the efficiencies derived from server virtualization. Growth in the number of virtual machines deployed implies growth in virtualization software licenses, as well as for the OS instances required for each virtual machine.

  • Application monitoring and management tools, and discovery and inventory management tools, rank fourth and fifth respectively on the Heat Index, as users attempt to gain control over their increasingly virtualized and dynamic systems.
  • More than 60% of users project that more than half of all database systems will be run on 64-bit OS instances, up from just under 50% in 2009, implying substantial refreshing and upgrading of OS instances. More than two-thirds of respondents use Microsoft for back-end/database servers.
  • Eighty-three percent (83%) of respondents now report virtual machine software for midtier/application servers in use somewhere within their organization. This widespread deployment is illustrative of virtualization’s movement from strictly development and test applications to production applications.
  • Cloud/utility computing scores well on the Heat Index, based on the 13% who report it in long-term plan, but the vendors cited reflect an even split between respondents who are describing internal cloud development and those who are referring to using an external cloud provider.

About TheInfoPro’s Server Study

TheInfoPro’s Wave 8 Server Study is based on detailed one-on-one interviews with server professionals at 300 large and midsize enterprises in North America and Europe that were completed in fall 2009. It provides detailed plans about usage patterns for 43 server technologies that fall under the following categories: x86 server hardware, servers and storage networking, infrastructure management software, virtualization software, applications and advanced architectures, special operating system and other server form factors. For each technology, IT pros were asked about the status of implementation and about the vendors they are using or considering. In addition, data is collected on the current and projected spending on the technology. TIP’s proprietary technology indexes provide tools to evaluate areas of interest to the reader. Vendors that were mentioned in the study include Hewlett-Packard, Dell, IBM, Oracle, VMware, Microsoft, Red Hat, Cisco, NEC and Stratus Technologies.

About TheInfoPro

TheInfoPro is a leading advisory and research firm that provides real-world perspectives on the customer and market dynamics of the information technology landscape by using a unique research methodology that harnesses the collective knowledge and insights of leading IT organizations worldwide. Through a combination of expert advice, actionable analysis and our extensive network of IT professionals, TheInfoPro serves as a conduit between IT decision-makers, technology providers and institutional investors. Founded in 2002 by alumni of Gartner, Giga, EMC and Bell Labs, TheInfoPro is headquartered in New York City. To learn more, visit www.theinfopro.com or email info@theinfopro.com.

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Bernd Harzog (331 Posts)

Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud).

Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets.

Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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