Virtualization Knowledge Gap Spurs Confusion Over Benefits

General uncertainty about the benefits of virtualization appears to be highly correlated to knowledge of what virtualization is.

There is a sizable knowledge gap between the working public’s knowledge of desktop virtualization as a productivity tool and server virtualization as advanced IT infrastructure, as compared to what IT managers and CIOs are reporting about virtualization.

A study commissioned by a group of Cisco partners found that 40 percent of workers haven’t even heard of server or desktop virtualization. In addition, 54 percent of non-IT workers haven’t heard of virtualization, 80 percent of senior management, vice presidents and senior vice presidents don’t know how virtualization will benefit their businesses, and just 34 percent of workers said they believe virtualization technologies are employed in their workplaces.

However, the report indicated the productivity benefits of virtualization are not lost on those who have access to the technologies, with nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of workers who access work files or desktops remotely saying that ability was important to their jobs. In addition, 46 percent of respondents access their desktops remotely or from any other device--a sizeable chunk. A similar percentage, 55 percent, can access work files from home or another device.

"As IT managers grapple with problems such as server sprawl, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) security and software licensing, an empathetic and knowledgeable executive will be key to begin solving these issues," the report noted. "The basic misunderstanding by the general public about how virtualization works and what its benefits are stands as a major hindrance to widespread adoption of server and desktop virtualization."

General uncertainty about the benefits of virtualization appears to be highly correlated to knowledge of what virtualization is. For instance, 61 percent of all respondents said they didn’t know whether their work would benefit from virtualization, but this number drops to 27 percent among those who are "very familiar" with virtualization. Among those who work in the IT industry and possess superior computer knowledge, the level of uncertainty drops to zero.

There also appears to be a further knowledge gap in understanding the benefits of virtualization, with more than half of non-IT workers thinking that remote access capabilities would not make their work any easier (53 percent), and 4 percent saying it would actually make their work more difficult. Of those who believe remote access would make their work more difficult, 54 percent admitted not having any knowledge of virtualization.

"A technology really must attain critical mass before it takes off. Virtualization clearly hasn’t reached this stage. More broadly, the risk that the technology knowledge gap will widen to the point that CIOs and IT managers operate in an arcane field that few understand--is very real," the study concluded. "CIOs and IT managers would be well advised to host a couple informational sessions about how the office infrastructure helps support employees."