A survey of 309 senior business and IT managers at small to medium size businesses (SMBs) in North America found midmarket companies are achieving a wide range of benefits with virtualization. The survey, conducted by virtualization solutions specialist VMware, found the areas in which the most SMBs reported significant improvements were time spent on routine IT administrative tasks (73 percent), application availability (71 percent), ability to respond to changing business needs (68 percent), backup and data protection (67 percent), business continuity preparedness (67 percent), and company profitability and growth rate (67 percent).
Among the other conclusions of the survey is that one-third (33 percent) of SMBs have had an IT systems outage within the past two years and more than one in five (21 percent) has lost critical business data as a result of an accident or disaster. Of those, more than three in five (62 percent) have lost sales or customers as a result. At the same time, fewer than half (47 percent) have a business continuity plan that has been updated in the past two years, or have a detailed data backup and retention policy -- even though retaining current customers was ranked as a highly important business goal by 77 percent.
Joe Andrews, group manager of product marketing at VMware, said midmarket business owners understand that their customers are their top priority, but they don't fully appreciate the risks of permanent damage a systems outage can have on the relationship with their customers. "The good news is implementing virtualization can greatly improve disaster preparedness and recovery so businesses can more easily meet customer demands and maintain their business operations," he said.
According to the survey results, the top IT initiatives for 2010 are improving security (61 percent), data backup and protection (52 percent), maintaining current infrastructure (42 percent), reducing energy use (39 percent), and business continuity and disaster recovery (39 percent). Almost nine out of ten (89 percent) IT departments spend half or more of their time on routine administrative tasks, the survey found, and companies that have implemented virtualization see their IT departments as more effective. Seventy-one percent of companies that use virtualization rate their IT department as somewhat or very effective, versus 45 percent of companies that have not implemented virtualization.
The top business goals for 2010 are retaining key employees (81 percent), controlling costs (81 percent), finding new customers (79 percent), retaining current customers (77 percent), and increasing productivity (77 percent). Companies that implemented virtualization see their IT departments as more responsive, with 73 percent of companies that use virtualization rating their IT departments as somewhat or very responsive, versus 57 percent of companies that have not implemented virtualization.
"Even a very small business with only a few servers can benefit from virtualization." said Andrews. "Whether it's time freed up to respond to new business challenges, reduced hardware costs, improved disaster preparedness, or more satisfied end users, these results show that the benefits are significant across the board, and for all kinds of companies."