The latest independent joint ITIC/Sunbelt Software survey found that demand and deployment for several technology sectors — most notably server and application virtualization — will remain robust in direct contrast to the bearish global economic climate. ITIC and Sunbelt, polled C-level executives and network administrators at over 700 corporations worldwide on a variety of technology and business related topics. The Web-based survey included multiple choice and essay responses. In addition, ITIC and Sunbelt conducted two dozen first person customer interviews to validate the survey responses. ITIC and Sunbelt received no vendor sponsorship for this research. Additionally, no vendors had any influence or input into the survey or the results and none of the survey respondents received any remuneration for their participation. Approximately 85% of the respondents came from North America; the remaining 15% came from 20 countries, including Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South America.
Server Virtualization Still a Top Priority in the Datacenter
Virtualization remains a high-growth technology area, and the survey found that market leaders — VMware, Microsoft and Citrix are all consolidating their positions. The survey also showed that while desktop and application virtualization will play a pivotal role for businesses — particularly enterprises with > 500 end users, the market will not materialize as quickly as it did for server virtualization. Among the survey highlights:
* VMware remains the market leader but Microsoft’s Hyper-V is closing the gap. In response to a question in which we asked customers to select ALL the virtualization products they plan to use/deploy in 2009, nearly 60% said they plan to deploy VMware’s ESX Server (29%) or the free VMware Server (30%). However, 52% of the respondents indicated they will use Microsoft’s Hyper-V or the older Microsoft Virtual Server; 37% of respondents indicated they will opt for Hyper-V compared with the remaining 15% who said they will use the older Virtual Server. This percentage is double the number of survey respondents who indicated they would use Microsoft hypervisor solutions when we polled users in a 2007 survey.
* When it comes to Application Virtualization solutions, Microsoft’s App-V is the market leader, clearly beating VMware’s ThinApp by a 2-to-1 margin, trailing Citrix’s XenApp 5.0. That said, it must be noted that thus far, only about 15% of the survey respondents have fully virtualized their applications across the entire enterprise.
* It’s still very early in the game for the emerging application virtualization market: nearly two-thirds — 62% — of businesses have not yet even begun to deploy application virtualization in production environments (though pilot networks abound) nor have they chosen an application virtualization vendor.
* Interestingly, in spite of cost constraints and pressures on IT budgets, only 7% of the survey respondents said they had attempted to renegotiate the terms and conditions of their virtualization licensing contracts to get better deals. Another 27% said they were studying the issue but had not yet made any definitive attempts to renegotiate and 66% said “No.”
Microsoft Vista: Most Users “Surprisingly” Satisfied
On the Windows desktop OS front, the ITIC/Sunbelt survey respondents gave Microsoft’s much maligned Vista operating system surprisingly high satisfaction ratings. We say “surprising” because Vista has gotten a lot of bad ink, much of it undeserved. Overall, 59% of the survey respondents said Vista was “Excellent,” “very good” or “good.” Despite these grades though, 45% of those polled said they would skip Vista and go directly to Windows 7 when that desktop OS ships in early 2010. Drilling further into the Vista responses:
* To date, only 10% of the 700 survey respondents’ organizations have deployed Vista. * Windows XP is the primary desktop OS for 88% of the respondents.
* Vista seems a victim of Windows XP’s success: Among the 45% of survey respondents who indicated they’ll skip Vista, the main reason (s)) cited were cost constraints and the prevailing feeling that Windows XP is more than adequately meeting corporations’ business and technology needs.
* The Vista experience was much better than anticipated for the 10% of companies that use Vista is their primary desktop OS: 27% rated Vista’s performance, reliability and security Excellent or Very Good; another 32% rated it “Good”; 19% said it was “Satisfactory.” Only 19% gave it an “Unsatisfactory” rating, mainly due to application incompatibility problems.
One recurring theme among the survey respondents was that since Windows XP is getting the job done, there’s no compelling business reason to upgrade to Vista.
“Windows XP, Windows 2003 and our other applications are more than adequate for now,” said one network administrator. “That means we will be investing very little in new infrastructure for the next couple of years. The constant upgrade progression for the sake of “keeping current” is dead for now,” he added.
The Vista desktop OS — all six flavors — is generally solid. The biggest impediment facing large enterprises deploying Vista is application incompatibility. This problem is especially acute in large enterprises that have dozens of third-party applications associated with specific vertical markets. Consider the case of one such enterprise based in the Northeast with over 3,000 end users.
The company’s IT manager said his firm was 65% deployed onto Vista Business but, he noted, two of his crucial application vendors “have not yet migrated their products.” One is a financial application and the other is a GIS application. “They [the ISVs] have promised compliance by the end of 2009, so we plan to be 100% deployed on Vista by Q1 2010. At that time, we’ll be ready to continue our normal replacement cycle (30% per year), deploying Windows 7 Service Pack 1 in late 2010!”
Apple Macintosh Enterprise Usage Continues to Grow And finally, Apple Mac and OS X 10.x continue to make inroads in the enterprise:
* Over two-thirds of the 700 survey respondents — 68% — indicated they are likely to allow their end users to deploy Macs as their corporate enterprise desktops in the next 12 months. * Almost one-quarter or 23% have a significant number of Macintoshes (> 50) present in their organizations. Apple Macs have long been a favorite of company executives, but the survey responses clearly indicate that Mac usage has filtered down to rank and file knowledge workers across the enterprise. * Half of all the survey respondents — 50% — said they plan to increase integration with existing Apple consumer products, such as the iPhone, to allow users to access corporate Email and other applications. This augurs well for the iPhone to establish itself as a viable alternative to Research In Motion’s (RIM) as a mobile device that allows users to access Email and other collaboration applications.
In summary, the ITIC/Sunbelt survey responses show that businesses will find themselves challenged to do more with fewer resources. The respondents also exhibited their practicality and resourcefulness in extending the lifespan of still-useful technologies like Windows XP. However those who have the need and the budget, will get an able assist from emerging technologies like virtualization — and for those that correctly configure and deploy them — Vista and the Mac and OS X 10.x
Founded in 2002, ITIC (www.itic-corp.com) is a research and consulting firm whose mission is to help clients make sense of technology and business events and provide tactical, practical and actionable advice. This article first appeared in the Pund-IT Weekly Review.