The conventional wisdom is wrong. New research shows that small and medium-sized businesses have eclipsed their big business counterparts as the leading adopters of server virtualization technology -- at least in percentage terms.
In a video interview with bMighty.com, Greg Schultz, senior analyst at IT research and consulting company StorageIO, lays out the factors responsible for the uptake in virtualization among SMBs, including the technology's improved ease of use and greater awareness in the marketplace.
While enterprise-class companies may have a higher number of virtualized servers overall, "It's more likely in an SMB environment to see a higher level of virtualization - in other words, 50, 60 70, maybe even up to 100% of their servers have been virtualized," says Schultz, author of the recent book, The Green and Virtual Data Center.
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Of course, larger IT shops can also benefit from virtualization's potential to reduce costs by combining numerous "virtual machines" onto a single physical server, Shultz says. But enterprise IT organizations are also more likely than their SMB brethren to be running processor-intensive applications that do not lend themselves to virtualization.
"Where you tend to find virtualization being used in the larger environments is in specialized applications or for generalized file serving, where there's an opportunity to impact a very large base of servers," Schultz explains. However, "What you're also finding in those larger environments is that a lot of the core processing is performance-sensitive and time-sensitive, so there's actually a need for more processing," which often requires dedicated hardware, reducing the opportunity to virtualize.
Meanwhile, the SMB sector has become "the sweet spot of the market right now for virtualization," Schultz says. "The reason is the ability to consolidate, the ability to become more efficient and more optimized, and the ability to leverage resources more effectively."
Microsoft's incursions into the virtualization market have also had an impact. While the company still lags market leader VMware by a wide margin, Microsoft is making significant inroads smaller Windows-based shops. "Microsoft is a sleeping giant," Shultz warns. "Keep in mind that 95-plus percent of servers that are virtualized are Windows-based today."
Whatever the vendor, the efficiency benefits of virtualization are drawing SMBs to the technology even more dramatically than enterprises. Whether or not your company is moving aggressively into virtualization, it's an increasingly safe bet that your peers and competitors aren't waiting any longer.
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InformationWeek Contributing Editor a href=http://www.stevekovsky.com/ target="new">Steve Kovskyis a veteran reporter and author who has covered information technology for nearly 20 years in print, radio, television and online.
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