VMware may be losing dominance in server virtualization

Veeam's V-Index report shows one-third of enterprises plan to switch primary hypervisor platform

Just when you thought you had a handle on the virtualization market, someone creates yet another survey that shakes things up a bit. These latest findings not only shine a light on some interesting new numbers; they also raise new questions worth asking.

The survey comes from Veeam Software, a third-party virtualization backup, disaster recovery, and management solution provider that has made quite a name for itself in the virtualization ecosystem. This is its second quarterly survey, and the ongoing series has been dubbed the V-Index report. The V-Index was commissioned by Veeam, who in fairness has been a longtime VMware partner. However, the company recently expanded its development efforts to include other hypervisor technologies, and the survey was conducted by U.K. market researcher Vanson Bourne, not the Veeam team.

[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Read about the Top 10 benefits of server virtualization. | VMware's CEO Paul Maritz alludes to looming virtualization licensing changes at VMworld. | Keep up on virtualization by signing up for InfoWorld's Virtualization newsletter.]

According to the company, V-Index tracks the penetration of virtualization across the server estates of at least 500 large-scale enterprises across the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Vanson Bourne surveyed 578 enterprises (34 more than were surveyed in the previous quarter), and the survey was conducted with fairly large companies in mind -- those with over 1,000 employees -- and wasn't limited to Veeam's customer base.

In the September V-Index, 86.5 percent of the 578 organizations that responded to the survey said they had some type of server virtualization in their data centers. Across each of these enterprises, the V-Index report found an average penetration rate of 38.9 percent, meaning that was the percentage of servers being virtualized. The survey also found 81 percent of enterprises using virtualization expect to see their virtualized server estate increase in the next 12 months.

Within traditional x86 server virtualization, VMware was the current ruler of the roost. Results showed 67.6 percent of companies running some version of VMware's ESX or ESXi hypervisor platforms as their primary platform. Beyond that, companies also reported operating on Citrix XenServer, 14.4 percent of the time; Microsoft Hyper-V, 16.4 percent; and other platforms, 1.6 percent. Red Hat's KVM technology is sure to make up part of that "other" category and is starting to show signs of taking off, especially within Linux shops, thanks in part to groups such as the Open Virtualization Alliance forming around it.

Beyond those typical findings, here's what's really interesting: Even though VMware continues to maintain the lion's share of the market, 38 percent of companies questioned say they are planning to change the hypervisor platform currently being used for server virtualization workloads. Why? According to the V-Index, the cost of the current hypervisor platform was cited as the No. 1 reason for the switch, coming in at 58.9 percent. This was followed closely by: features offered by alternative hypervisors, 47.4 percent; the licensing model, 46.8 percent; and increased maturity of alternative hypervisors, 41.6 percent.

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