Server virtualisation technology is now "firmly embedded" in European enterprises, new research reveals.
A study from IDC reported that the pace of adoption of virtualised servers is "incredibly rapid" in organisations that are using virtualisation, and that 35 per cent of servers purchased in 2007 are virtualised.
Some 52 per cent of servers bought in 2008 are expected to be virtualised, while 54 per cent of firms not currently using virtualisation expect to do so in the next 18 months.
"Virtualisation use has exploded since our last survey of the European market," said Chris Ingle, consulting and research director at IDC's Systems Group.
"Large organisations and smaller businesses are using the technology for a wider range of applications and for business-critical projects.
"As use of virtualisation grows the challenges around managing complexity, finding skills and software licensing become more apparent."
IDC's 2008 European Server Virtualization Survey: Fast Growth and Wider Range of Applications noted that organisations are increasing their virtualisation of x86 systems for core business applications.
However, the majority of virtualisation is still for test and development and for network server applications. Expertise and skills were found to be the biggest barrier to virtualisation adoption.
The report found that growth of virtualisation as a strategy remains strong, rising from 46 per cent of the base to 54 per cent in the latest survey.
VMware is the clear market leader in providing virtualisation technology with 82 per cent of the sample companies, according to IDC.
Despite high levels of Linux use, only three per cent of the sample use Xen as their virtualisation platform. Microsoft is used by 13 per cent of the sample base, while various Unix technologies and mainframe account for 14 per cent.
"Some companies have a large set of applications that can be managed more effectively, and more importantly a backlog of applications they need to deploy, " said Nathaniel Martinez, programme director for European enterprise servers at IDC.
"Virtualisation enables these companies to rationalise their application portfolio and deploy applications more effectively.
"As the market matures, we expect companies to start to measure their virtualisation projects more closely and look for greater value from virtualisation across their infrastructure."
Ingle added that the range of approaches makes the right technology selection critical.
"Microsoft is making a strong push for market share later in 2008, and VMware seems to be in the right place with its focus on business continuity and virtualisation management," he said.
"Citrix and the Unix vendors are appealing to their core markets, while HP, IBM, Fujitsu-Siemens Computers, Dell, Sun, BMC and others will look to take the lead in systems and management."
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