The entire IT industry is on an unmistakable path to virtualization with certain segments adopting it faster than others (e.g. financial sector, hosting companies, etc.) Server virtualization is still the primary driver of virtualization although, in the last couple of years, VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), which helps virtualize all client devices like desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones has also shown remarkable growth. Storage virtualization is limited to the larger companies with vast amounts of storage although it will be an integral part of cloud delivery centers as well as integrated/converged data centers. These trends will make virtualization a growth market for several years.
While large companies are adopting virtualization on their in-house infrastructure, only certain SMBs are likely to adopt in-house virtualization. Most will be delivered virtualized solutions (especially VDI) via virtual infrastructures by hosters.
The largest share of Virtualization adoption by SMBs comes from North America, however, Asia/Pacific is the place to be. Asia/Pacific right now shows two distinct trends. On one hand, we see a number of smaller companies adopting in-house IT infrastructures. On the other hand, businesses with somewhat larger IT needs have started to adopt virtualization and the trend is expected to gain momentum in the near future. Armed with latest information about latest technologies and driven by rapid business growth (and corresponding growth of their IT infrastructures), Asia/Pacific businesses have shown a high openness towards, and willingness to adopt virtualization. In many cases, virtualization is an integral part of the discussions while designing and implementing new IT infrastructures among Asia/Pacific businesses.
The growth rate of Virtualization in Asia/Pacific is a little over 28 percent from 2010.
Virtualization reaching the Consumer Market
Virtualization is already being used by consumers and small businesses widely. The most common example of this is Parallels, which allows consumers to run Windows operating systems on their Apple machines. (Other vendors also have comparable products to help consumers run multiple OS’ on their machines.
Microsoft has also made virtual machines integral to its Windows 7 OS that allows users to run their Windows XP applications on their new Windows 7 operating systems.
In the near term, this trend of using multiple OS’ on a single machine will accelerate. Further down the road, it is entirely possible that increasing reliance on cloud-delivered services may reduce the users' need for on-site virtualization. But that is still further down the road and the exact trend is still an open question.
Market Leader in Virtualization
VMware is still the dominant leader with over two-thirds to three-fourths of the market for server virtualization. What contributed to its leadership position is that it has the benefit of an early start, a broad range of supporting products for managing virtual environments, a strong channel and partnerships with most leading vendors for the resale of its products.
Challenging VMware's Market Dominance
VMware has three major advantages: its portfolio of products, ecosystem to implement and support VMware's environments and brand recognition. Any competitor who hopes to compete with VMware head on will need to at least match VMware's strengths in these areas. Citrix is gaining traction, especially with its VDI initiatives. Microsoft has the potential to compete with VMware but will need to focus more. Other competitors are still in early phases and unlikely to pose a major threat to VMware in the short term.
Various attempts at open source solutions that would reduce or potentially eliminate the reliance on the underlying virtualization platform are still in very initial stages. Theoretically, adoption of open solutions will avoid a vendor lock-in by customers as they would be able to move applications easily. Even if the efforts take off, it'll take a few years to have any material impact on VMware's dominance. A greater source of threat for VMware is competition from other vendors like Citrix, Microsoft and other smaller vendors (including potentially Oracle).
VCE's vision of integrated data centers needs to be supplemented by tangible products for its eventual success. It might take some time before such integrated data centers are designed and developed and gain customer acceptance. However, short-term ups and downs aside, the industry will move towards such integrated products coming from various vendors (e.g. HP's converged infrastructure). These integrated modular data centers will make it much easier for companies to install them and reduce their costs for designing, installing and maintaining these data centers.