Interest in server virtualization among U.S. medium-size businesses (MBs, firms with 100-1,000 employees) increased significantly in the past year, according to AMI Partners' latest MB tracking study. The survey found the percentage of U.S. MBs that consider server virtualization strategically important has increased from 46 percent to 75 percent.
Melissa Chong, manager of managed services at AMI, said 2009 was the turning point for server virtualization usage among U.S. medium businesses, accelerated by the affects of the economic downturn as midmarket CIOs and IT managers looked for ways to cut IT costs and boost asset utilization. "Server virtualization can yield many benefits for a midmarket firm. At the most basic level, it improves utilization and reduces the number of physical servers, while at the same time, reducing electricity and cooling costs," she said. "In addition, U.S. MBs become more responsive to users' needs by reducing application deployment and migration times."
In response to this interest, IT vendors and channel partners have increased their focus on the U.S. medium business market providing them with new virtualization solutions. However, for many of these medium businesses, Chong said implementing virtualization can also be a challenge-requiring specialized IT skills for effective implementation.
In addition, virtualization often requires companies to upgrade their old server, storage and networking hardware to optimize the new virtualized environment, which adds to the perception that virtualization is a complex and costly process. Despite these perceptions, AMI expectd U.S. midmarket firms to increase their adoption of virtualization in the coming months as they upgrade their IT infrastructures, having deferred their purchases over the last year and a half during recession.
"U.S. midmarket firms are becoming more aware of the concept and benefits of virtualization as a whole. When midmarket firms upgrade their infrastructure, they will look into virtualization across server, clients, storage and networks as well," said Chong. "In the past few months, companies like Cisco, Dell, HP and IBM have announced their own virtualization bundles targeting U.S. MBs, in order to make it easier for them to adopt virtualization solutions and prevent incompatibilities that could up-end the entire virtualization effort."
In order to understand U.S. small and medium businesses' plans to adopt virtualization, AMI announced it is initiating a virtualization study to explore the demand for different types of virtualization solutions (individually and as an integrated solution) and their preferences and decision-making processes. The company said the study would also provide market sizing and forecast for the different types of virtualization solutions and assess the impact on PCs, server, storage and application shipments and IT spending.