SMBs Loves Them Some Virtualization - InformationWeek

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Fredric Paul
Fredric Paul

SMBs Loves Them Some Virtualization

Small and midsize businesses may have been a bit late to the virtualization station, but falling prices have them moving quickly to catch up with larger enterprises. So says a recent Gartner survey of companies with 100- 999 employees.

Small and midsize businesses may have been a bit late to the virtualization station, but falling prices have them moving quickly to catch up with larger enterprises. So says a recent Gartner survey of companies with 100- 999 employees.Don't Miss: NEW! Storage How-To Center

According to a statement from Tom Bittman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, SMBs will soon be the most virtualized segment of the market:

"While large enterprises were quick to leverage virtual machines to reduce server sprawl and power costs, as well as conserve data center space, small business started late on virtualization. However, by year-end 2010, enterprises with 100-999 employees will have a higher penetration of virtual machines deployed than the Global 500. For years the entry point was simply too high for small enterprises, but increased competition by server vendors has enable smaller firms to embrace virtualization.

Virtualization Review says the study showed 41% of US SMBs starting to virtualize before 2009, while another 35% are starting this year. That's more than three-quarters of SMBs doing virtualization by the beginning of 2010. A huge change in a short period of time.

Even more dramatic, Bittman also told Virtualization Review that SMBs do virtualization differently than enterprises do. Enterprises virtualize as they add new hardware, which leads to incremental adoption that may take 5 years or more, while SMBs jump into virtualization "as a project," quickly going from "0 to 60% to 70% or even 100%." Of course, "some of these gung-ho users also end up getting burned."

So Bittman advises a 'start small, think big' approach: "Start with a specific project but build towards a wider strategic plan that includes management and process changes... Starting small both reduces risk and provides for a learning curve while building the foundations for sustainable reductions in total cost of ownership (TCO) and improvements in service quality... Thinking big means it's important to proactively plan ahead for the major process and management changes virtualization brings -- not to mention how virtualization is a path to cloud computing."

According to Bittman's statement, virtualization forces organizational changes that often lead to cloud computing:

"What many organizations fail to recognize about virtualization is that the most important changes aren't technological, they are cultural. Virtualization forces users to let go of the physical implementations of their services, and deal with their provider in terms of service levels and results."

And that's precisely how companies must deal with cloud computing as well.

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