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Server virtualization: India Inc.'s top data center priority for 2010

Jasmine Desai, Principal Correspondent
The benefits of server virtualization are not debatable. Indian businesses are definitely in agreement with this technology, going by the results of SearchDataCenter.in team's Data Center Purchasing Intentions Survey for Indian organizations. Server

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virtualization came as the most prominent server-related trend and key investment area for 2010 in the Data Center Purchasing Intentions Survey results. Almost 51% of the surveyed CIOs cite an increase in server virtualization-related budget allocation for 2010. This is largely compounded by server virtualization's benefits like savings on space and power fronts.  

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Held in October 2009, the survey reveals interesting server buying and technology trends. Some of the evaluated aspects on the server front include typical server virtualization application scenarios, most preferred hardware platforms, and derived benefits.

Cost savings are clearly the driving factor for adoption of server virtualization solutions in India. Nearly 47% of the surveyed organizations are in process of expanding virtual machine deployments. More interestingly, 40% of Indian businesses are testing server virtualization for disaster recovery (DR) or high-availability scenarios. The cost benefits and ease of management when implementing DR on virtual server infrastructure is clearly driving this trend.

Since a single physical server can accommodate multiple virtual servers, most Indian organizations are enticed by the huge savings in terms of space and hardware. Adding to these benefits is the automatic reduction in power required to cool these servers. As a result, power saving is one of the topmost factors driving virtualization, considering the dearth of power in most parts of India.  According to most respondents, the top three factors driving server virtualization at India Inc. are hardware cost savings (for 85% of surveyed organizations), power and cooling cost savings (75% of the respondents) and reduction in physical data center space (for 60%of the respondents).  Almost 25% of the surveyed IT decision makers plan to deploy server virtualization for the first time in 2010.

46% of Indian companies don't have a standard hardware platform to host virtual machines. But blade servers have substantial clout, with 31% of organizations trusting these platforms.
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The server virtualization trend incorporates several aspects — especially in terms of applications that IT managers prefer to run on virtual machines. According to the Data Center Purchasing Intentions Survey, 63% of surveyed organizations run Web servers on virtual machines, making it the most common application on a virtual server. This is followed by applications like application servers (57%) and databases for development (45%). Network infrastructure services like domain name servers, DHCP, and firewalls are also finding their place on virtual servers, with 43% of respondents attesting to the same.

It's evident from these results that Indian businesses are still testing the waters, since mission critical applications (like ERP) are not being deployed on virtual servers. Organizations prefer to assess the performance of non-mission critical applications on virtual servers before running mission critical apps on such infrastructure.

Indian organizations determine the hardware platform for server virtualization using various parameters. Long term growth and hardware scalability should clearly take priority in such assessments. But strangely, the survey reveals that 46% of Indian companies do not have a standard hardware platform to host virtual machines. However, blade servers do have substantial clout in the server virtualization space, with 31% of organizations trusting blade-based platforms.

Blade servers have made a slow but sure entry in the Indian market due to benefits like low power consumption and space. Also, blade servers have become a preferred platform for server virtualization due to its space saving capabilities.

IBM's long-standing legacy in the Indian market seems to extend to the server virtualization space as well. Nearly 41% of Indian organizations run their server virtualization platforms largely on IBM hardware. HP follows closely, with 35% of Indian organizations using its hardware as the primary server virtualization platform. Dell has started becoming aggressive in terms of its presence since the last couple of years, and this seems to be working. Almost 19% of surveyed organizations bank on Dell products as the primary hardware for server virtualization.

Aggressive green drives
Green seems to be the dominating color for CIOs in 2010, and this was clearly highlighted by the top three drivers for server purchases. More than 32% of the surveyed Indian organizations made it clear that reducing power consumption is a critical aspect to consider during new server evaluations.

Apart from the green IT drive, increase in capacity emerges as a clear priority during server purchases for 45% of the respondents. Enhancement of server virtualization capabilities is also a critical factor for 45% of Indian companies.