Although server virtualization is not currently as widespread as many presume, the market for virtual machines is growing rapidly, especially in the small business sector. According to Tom Bittman, the vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, "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 enabled smaller firms to embrace virtualization."
Looking into the future of how server virtualization will evolve, Bittman says it is important to understand that virtual machines are not cloud computing. However, virtual machines enable and forces the same changes required to effectively leverage cloud computing. So virtual machines as such lead inexorably to cloud computing.
According to Bittman, many organizations fail to recognize that the most important changes on the virtual machine front aren't technological, but cultural in nature. "Virtual machines force users to let go of the physical implementations of their services, and deal with their provider in terms of service levels and results. When a provider becomes a cloud computing provider, users need to do a more complete job of describing their requirements in service terms," says Bittman.