The New Windows vs. Linux Debate

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Sep 16, 2009

Despite its new one-sided approach, news out of VMworld and analysis of things from the show continues to spill forth -- perhaps the slow news cycle of the summer hasn't yet ended.

Virtually Speaking: With the OS and hypervisor converging, the phrase 'heterogeneous data center' may soon have new meaning.

On Monday, The Register cited a survey commissioned by Centrify and conducted by NewDiligence that asked a wide spectrum of companies where they stood with server virtualization.

The results of the survey, "Virtual Data Centers - Market Dynamics and Security," conducted between August 12 and August 21, are available online.

There were few surprises in the 480 survey respondents' answers. For example:

  • 91 percent of organizations surveyed are using either a virtual host or hypervisor.
  • With installs at 60 percent of companies, VMware is far and away the leading virtualization vendor.

Not surprisingly, questions that probed deeper found VMware's domination to be far from permanent:

  • Microsoft's Hyper-V is used by more 25 percent of respondents.
  • VMware shops are hardly monogamous. On average, in VMware environments, two hosts or hypervisors are in use.
  • About half of VMware users are planning to increase their VMware usage, the other half may look to other solutions in the future.

Before you swap out Microsoft for VMware as market leader, bear in mind that despite the rapid growth, the market is far from tapped. Only 26 percent of respondents have virtualized at least half of their systems. This leaves ample room for VMware, Microsoft, Citrix and even Red Hat to expand their respective strongholds.

The Centrify survey places much emphasis on the inroads Hyper-V has made. And indeed, picking up 25 percent share in a year is quite notable — even more so when one considers that two years ago analysts anticipated Hyper-V's impact would not be felt until 2010 at the earliest.

It would also be a mistake to dismiss Citrix XenServer, which claimed an 18 percent usage rate with respondents, and, perhaps even more importantly, Red Hat. Earlier this month, Red Hat took the wraps off of Red Enterprise Linux 5.4. Like Windows Server 2008, virtualization is part of the operating system. The Microsoft vs. Linux debate is now comprehensive, and it includes both OS and hypervisor choice.

With hypervisors, and hence virtualization, finding their way into the leading operating systems, Centrify's findings that in less than 18 months the number of organizations with most of their systems virtualized will double, is almost a conservative estimate. Its results that 51 percent expect to have the majority of their systems virtualized by the end of 2010 also seems strikingly low.

As adoption rates tick upward for Windows Server 2008 and the new version of RHEL, virtualization penetration rates will likely move upward as well. It's entirely probable that in the near future, the heterogeneous data center will have a different meaning, referring to both hypervisors and operating systems and no specification of which is meant will be needed.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering the virtualization space since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical virtualization Solutions, which is scheduled for publication in October 2009.

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