European companies are increasingly adopting virtualisation and adding sophistication to their virtualised infrastructures, according to a new survey released by analyst house IDC.

IDC's 2008 European Server Virtualisation Survey (partially sponsored by VMware) discovered a fast growth of virtualisation uptake and a wider range of applications being used. The survey was conducted among 650 European companies, with typical respondents including IT directors, server or storage managers, or CIOs. 64 percent of respondents had 1,000 plus employees.

The survey interviewed both companies that had, and had not, gone down the virtualisation route (roughly 50:50 according to IDC). It found that among those European companies employing virtualisation, VMware enjoys 82 percent of the market.

The survey also shows that the rate of new servers being virtualised by existing virtualisation users will increase from 35 percent in 2007 to 52 percent by 2009. In addition, 54 percent of companies surveyed who are not using virtualisation today, plan to do so in the next 12 months.

"35 percent is surprising," said Chris Ingle, consulting and research director for IDC's European Systems Group. "But more and more people are running applications in a virtualised environment. It is a high number, but it shows the level of adoption."

"The speed of adoption also surprised us," he admitted to Techworld. "We didn't expect it to be as strong as this survey reveals."

Related

The survey also pinpointed the largest growth areas for virtualisation adoption, which are expected to be improved disaster recovery, backup capabilities and increased system availability.

"Customers are using virtualisation for more complex workloads, and using it for the adoption of backup, disaster recovery etc," said Ingle. "Sophistication is faster than what we saw in 2007."

89 percent of organisations said they used virtualisation to reduce their data centre costs; with respondents stating that using proven virtualisation technology was the most important criteria in deciding to go down the virtualisation route.

59 percent also said that their implementations have typical server consolidation ratios of up to 4:1.

"That said, we are seeing many environments where there is server consolidation of 10 or even 12 to 1, at the server level," said Lewis Gee, VP Northern Region EMEA for VMware. "We are seeing this quite regularly." He pointed to Bracknell Forest District Council, which has 140 virtualised machines on seven hosts, which works out at a 20:1 ratio.

Meanwhile 45 percent of respondents said they used virtualisation as standard for new application deployment or felt that it would become standard in a few years.

"The good thing from our point of view, it is proving our customers in Europe are taking a step forward to using virtualisation in their infrastructure," said Gee. "They are looking beyond consolidation and partitioning - which we think was the first phase. They are going beyond that, looking at disaster recover, high availability, backup, flexibility of data centres etc."

And Gee does not seem overly troubled at the entry of Microsoft to the virtualisation field, with the introduction of Hyper-V.

"The first thing to say from our point of view, we have known about Hyper-V for a very long time now," he said. "We are aware of the technology, and we have had plenty of people testing it, and we are confident in our products."

"It is not a bad thing Microsoft coming into the market, as it validates our argument that virtualisation is becoming a standard," he added.

IDC's Ingle however believes that Redmond's entry will only further drive virtualisation adoption. "It comes down to two things," said Ingle. "There is still a huge market of people not using virtualisation, so Redmond will broaden virtualisation's appeal."

"The second thing is, does Microsoft have the performance that customers need?" he asks. "Microsoft will extend the market considerably, but it will be very difficult, certainly in the short term (two to three years) to displace customers who have already selected their technology," Ingle feels.