Nearly a quarter of all British companies would find it possible to assess how frequently an application is being used within an organisation. That's according to a survey from Centrix Software, which also found that only a quarter of respondents would find it easy to obtain this information.

But Lisa Hammond, Centrix's CEO said that the true position could be even worse. "I think that's a slight over-estimation. In our dealings with customers, I'd say the figure was lower than that. It's something that companies do find hard to do."

She said that there were differing results depending on the size of organisation. "When you have 100s of PCs to look at it's easier than dealing with 1000s – then it can become very difficult. For example," she said, " we had one customer who had 180 million rows of data to look at. The other way to make it easier is to just look at one application. If that's all your interested in, it becomes much more manageable."

It's not only usage that organisations find hard to measure, companies find it hard to get a handle on costs too. Nearly a third (31 percent) said it would be impossible, or very difficult, to obtain information on how much those applications were costing the company – again, only about a quarter of companies could measure this accurately.

This lack of measurement could cause difficulties for companies looking to move to virtualisation, said Hammond.

When companies plan a move to virtualisation, said Hammond, they need to know three things: which applications are being used; the usage pattern (ie where are they being used and when) and what devices they're being run on. The big mistake people make when moving to virtualisation – is look at the device only. You need to look at everything on that device and the usage pattern as well."