While the move towards virtualisation continues unabated. Enterprises aren't always finding the move to be as straightforward as they expected it to be.

The latest evidence for this is from a Computacenter survey which has shown that between four and six percent of virtualisation customers achieved the return on investment in the timescale that they were expecting..

This, of course, has little to do with virtualisation itself or even in the project management skills of the IT Directors/CIOs, but  it does have plenty to do with managing expectations. Vendors, aided by the media, have been eagerly promoting virtualisation as the way forward - which it is often is.

However, it's a long way from being the right approach for every user in every organisation. As reported last week, organisations are starting to distinguish between different types of desktop virtualisation and the more clued-up companies are looking on who will benefit.

What seems to have affected the companies in the Computacenter survey is that they have relied heavily on the vendor tools for management of the virtualisation process. I suspect that this is something that will happen less and less as virtualisation becomes more accepted and more mainstream - after all, how likely is that an organisation running Windows Server runs only Microsoft tools?

Already, we can see some third-party tools becoming more widely accepted: Computacenter mentioned Metron-Athene for capacity management and vCommander for managing sprawl. There are plenty more: Veeam has set the pace in virtualisation backup and replication, theere's vWire for virtualisation management and CiRBA for data centre management for virtual environments and many more. There's also an open source calculator from TAS for companies who don't want to rely on VMware's own figures.

So, there's plenty of choice available. It's fair to say that there has been a slow take-up of third-party tools, customers choosing to rely on the ones provided by hypervisor vendors: i expect this to change over the coming year as more customers realise the tools can only go so far - there's certainly an economic imperative to cut costs by not buying unnecessary software - but there's also an economic imperative to make virtualisation pay.

Computacenter's Paul Casey told me that the next step for virtualisation is to move from discrete projects to mission-critical applications. Some companies are already going down that route, I expect that as more do so, third-party applications will come into their own even more. After all, once virtualisation goes really mainstream, getting the numbers right will be the first priority.