V-Index: Measuring Virtualization Technology's Reach

By Paul Rubens (Send Email)
Posted Jul 21, 2011


Getting data on virtualization technology usage can be hard to come by, but here's some good news: A quarterly industry survey of 500 enterprises called the V-Index has just been launched.

Getting data on virtualization technology is now easier than ever. A quarterly industry survey of 500 enterprises called the V-Index has just been launched, and the results are simultaneously expected and surprising.

Commissioned by Veeam, a virtual infrastructure management company, the V-Index will track three key parameters: virtualization rate, consolidation ratio and primary hypervisor use, in businesses based in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. (Surprisingly, there's no attempt to shed any light on the use of private of hybrid cloud technology. It's a shame, but then you can't have everything.) The first set of data is out now, and some of it makes very interesting reading, indeed.

The virtualization penetration rate -- the proportion of the servers in all the enterprises that are virtual servers -- is 39.4 percent. That's not a huge surprise, as it's roughly in line with recent estimated published by VMware and Gartner. But here's something unexpected: While the English speakers -- the United States and United Kingdom -- are at 37.2 percent and 35.7 percent, respectively, it's noticeable that French and German enterprises have significantly higher penetration rates of 45.5 percent and 45.1 percent, respectively.

Moving on to the consolidation ratio -- the number of virtual machines in an enterprise divided by the number of physical hosts -- the average is 6.3. Physical hosts generally support about 6 guests, in other words. But what's illuminating is the figure that the surveyors got when they asked the enterprises concerned what they thought their consolidation rates were. The estimates are consistently higher than the actual figures, with an average perceived consolidation ratio of 9:8. That means companies believe they are getting consolidation ratios more than 50 percent higher than the ratios they are actually achieving. The worst offenders are the French, which have the lowest actual consolidation ratio (5.8 percent), while perceiving that they have the highest (11.3 percent). But before we laugh too much at our poor, deluded cheese-chomping friends, U.S.-based enterprises are almost as bad, achieving 6.0 percent but believing they have achieved 11.2 percent.

"One reason for this over-estimation may be that companies want to believe they are getting a better consolidation ratio than they are because then they can convince themselves that they are getting a better return on investment," said Ratmir Timashev, Veeam's president and CEO. "Another reason may be that they don't have good management tools to keep track of the virtual machines that they are actually using."

It will be interesting to see which way the (actual) consolidation ratio goes over the coming months. There's an increasing move toward virtualizing large mission-critical applications like Oracle databases or Exchange servers, which would tend to drive down the ratio, while physical server hardware is getting increasingly powerful, with the potential to host many more guests, driving the ratio up. "The management tools are also getting more powerful, so administrators will also have better information that will enable them to consolidate more," said Timashev. "Right now, many physical hosts are underutilized," he said.

When it comes to primary hypervisor market share, VMware -- as expected -- is the winner, with 58.2 percent. Citrix Xen is second with 20.2 percent, and Microsoft's Hyper-V is third by a whisker with 18.6 percent. Red Hat's KVM virtualization technology is nowhere to be seen, lumped in with "others" at 3 percent. Timashev expressed surprise that the figure for Citrix is not closer to 5 percent and suspects some respondents may have factored virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployments into their responses by mistake. Future surveys may clarify this, he said.

Despite the marked international variations in some of the figures above, one thing enterprises in all four countries agree on, to a strikingly similar extent, is that the use of server virtualization technologies will be more common in the next 12 months. A whopping 81.4 percent of all enterprises plan to increase virtualization in that period, with the biggest barriers to overcome being concerns about reliability and the need to wait for hardware refreshes before deployment. Bizarrely, the Germans are by far the most gung-ho and the least concerned, yet they have the fewest plans to increase virtualization.

More figures will be out in three months' time -- watch this space.

Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.

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