Aussies outpacing the world in virtualisation uptake

Local businesses spearhead new technology at twice the rate of our American counterparts.

Twice as many Australian businesses are using virtualisation than the rest of the world, according to analysts.

Between 8 and 9 percent of medium to enterprise businesses are virtualizing their x86 servers, Gartner says, while global uptake remains at about 4 to 5 percent.

Analysts admit the numbers are surprising given Gartner forecasts that US businesses will spend $US942.2 billion on IT, almost 20 times more than the $US47.8 billion which will be spent by Australian organisations.

Gartner's servers and storage vice president Phil Sargeant said the figures, derived from research into organisational IT maturity, show Australians are spearheading virtualisation uptake.

"The deployment of virtualisation is greater in Australia than anywhere else in the world [and] these figures have been backed up by VMware and the like," Sargeant said, adding the results were based in part on a mix of consumer and vendor feedback.

"Uptake of virtualisation has been growing steadily for the past few years, and has accelerated during the last 12 months."

The IT maturity survey, produced early this year, canvassed issues including the perception of IT by the business and the use of emerging technology.

"Australia has a mature IT environment and has always been good at adopting technology," Sargeant said, "and businesses have embraced it and reaped the cost savings."

His estimates include all phases of virtualisation implementation, from testing and pilots to production.

But the figure is even higher, according to Unisys, which said the 8 to 9 percent adoption includes only virtualised systems in production.

Speaking at a <i>CIO magazine</i> virtualisation conference, Australia and New Zealand services lead for the Infrastructure Management Suite Ben Robinson said the figure would be even higher if all x86 server virtualisation deployments were considered.

Numbers are swelling from new organisations adopting virtualisation for the cash savings of hardware consolidation and smaller power bills.

The old hands, Sargeant says, have milked their savings and are still using virtualisation for the improved availability and agility it offers.

The technology took off around 2004 when it hit x86 servers and has maintained momentum thanks largely to the success of innovators such as VMware, former IDC senior analyst Graham Penn said.

While he supports the figures suggested by Sergeant, he warns virtualisation by its nature can blur statistics.

"SMBs usually only virtualise a few machines, whereas for enterprises it is a completely different challenge that is exponentially more complex," Penn said.

"Its relatively easy for medium businesses to deploy virtualisation because they are only dealing with a dozen or so machines, but the scale is hugely different for enterprises.

"You need to be very careful how you use statistics [because] the percentages could mean virtualisation is used on one machine in a lab, or a few for finance and so on. The Australian statistics are absolutely true because we have, with New Zealand, kept ahead of the rest of the world in many fields of IT ."

Statistics from Forrester Research claim more than 21 percent of SMBs with x86 servers have implemented virtualisation, with another 11 percent committed to a deployment next year.

Graham Penn, a doyen in the industry, retires with more than 40 years of IT experience under his belt as a programmer, systems analyst, and market researcher. In his former role, he was director of IDC storage research across 12 countries, and has obtained a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Commerce. Penn, widely respected throughout the industry, will maintain an avid interest in IT throughout his retirement.

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