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SMB Server Virtualization Market Showing Signs Of Maturity

Growth remains explosive, but the low-hanging fruit appears to have already been taken according to a new report.
Growth remains explosive, but the low-hanging fruit appears to have already been taken according to a new report.During 2Q08, worldwide unit sales of virtualization software for the x86 server market (which pretty much defines the SMB server market) grew by a whopping 60%, reports IDC. But this rate was slower than the previous quarters, indicating that the easy, high-volume consolidation opportunities have been accounted for, and that the market is reaching maturity.

VMware saw its virtualization software business grow by an annual rate of 27%, and was the top-tier x86 virtualization vendor with 44% of the market, reported IDC. But Microsoft virtualization software amounted to 23% of new shipments, even though Microsoft's flagship virtualization product, Hyper-V, has only been available for one quarter.

Another sign of maturity for a market is that more people are getting into it with more products, and that pricing is under pressure. For instance, Microsoft has announced that it has released its System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008 to manufacturing. VMM is expected to go on sale November 1 for about $1,300, or about one-third of the VMware's Virtual Center, according to reports.

VMM is described as a comprehensive management solution for a virtual machine infrastructure that will work with both Hyper-V and VMware. One highly touted feature is called Performance and Research Optimization (PRO) that allows some automated management of both the hardware and software on a machine, so a server could, for instance, fail-over to another server if it's cooling fan failed.

In terms of the sale of new virtualized servers, IDC reported that Hewlett-Packard had 34% of the market and an annual growth rate of 52%. Dell held second place with 29% of the market with a growth rate of 110%. IBM came in third, with 16% of the market and a growth rate of 32%. (Of course, there are plenty of product niches that would happily die for such growth rates.)


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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
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