Is the Hypervisor Market Expanding or Contracting?
Dick Csaplar, Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group
SEP 25, 2012 06:40 AM
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With the growing trend of virtualized computing, it is time to examine whether the market for different brands of hypervisors is expanding or contracting. In Aberdeen's May 2012 survey on Server Virtualization, Aberdeen asked survey respondents to report the number and type of hypervisors they are using to support their server virtualization program. According to data in the resulting research report, "Is the Hypervisor Market Expanding or Contracting?", the number of different hypervisor brands deployed in their datacenters is broad and expanding

In the May 2012 survey Aberdeen listed all major brands of hypervisor software and asked the survey respondents to tell us if they are:

  • Primary — The single main hypervisor used as the standard for virtualizing their servers.  The survey allowed only one response in this category.
  • Also Use — Respondents were asked to report other hypervisors deployed in their datacenter.  There was no limit to the number of these responses and many organizations had more than one secondary hypervisor.
  • Plan to Stop —This was to capture which hypervisors organizations have currently deployed but planned to cease using in the near future.
  • Evaluating — Aberdeen asked if there were hypervisors that are being evaluated or considered for future datacenter deployment.

Source: Aberdeen Group, May 2012

The results from the survey are reported in Table 1. To better understand the findings Aberdeen grouped the 15 listed hypervisors into 6 categories:

  • VMware
  • Xen
  • Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM)
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Red-Hat
  • Other

VMware is shown to be the dominant player in the virtualization realm, as seen by its commanding lead of 52% in the "Primary" category. When the categories of Primary, Also Use and Evaluating are added together, VMware has a presence in 81% of reporting organizations.

Xen has presence in an equal number of organizations as VMware.  While the share of companies reporting Xen as their primary hypervisor is only 18%, an additional 32% reported also using Xen and another 31% reported evaluating it for future deployment. The 31% Evaluation rate is over 50% higher than any other hypervisor, meaning Xen's presence and market share should grow in the coming quarters. Amazon Web services and Rackspace, for example, both use Xen for their virtualization platform.

KVM, or Kernel-based Virtual Machine, is a more recent Linux-based hypervisor than Xen. It been around for less than 10 years, but has matured to become a player in the hypervisor market. Over half (58%) of all responding organizations reported having a KVM presence in their datacenter.

Hyper-V, Microsoft's foray into virtualization, comes in fourth in the survey with a 43% presence.  Encouraging for Microsoft is the fact that 18% of companies reported evaluating Hyper-V for future deployment, more than the 25% who reported having it deployed currently.

Red Hat is the newest entrant to the hypervisor market as they had initially used Xen for virtualization, but transitioned to the newer KVM-based version of their own hypervisor in 2009.  Their presence in organizations came in at 46%, a very respectable showing with representation in almost one half of responding organizations.

The "Other" category was used to catch any other hypervisor that was not as widely used or had statistically insignificant response rates.

When you add together the categories of "Primary" and "Also Use" you find on average that organizations use 2.5 different hypervisors in their datacenter. 

The total number "Evaluating" other hypervisors forecasts that, on average, reporting organizations are considering adding another hypervisor to their environment.  Reporting organizations are not locked into a single hypervisor solution. Aberdeen believes that companies will be constantly evaluating and re-evaluating hypervisor choices as new versions and features are released by vendors.

A single-vendor virtualization solution does not appear to be the best-fitting solution for server virtualization. As hypervisor software continues to mature and grow along with management technologies that span complex datacenter environments, a multi-hypervisor strategy seems to allow for matching the right type of hypervisor to the datacenter task it best can support.

Dick Csaplar
Senior Research Analyst, Storage and Virtualization Practice
IT Infrastrucutre GroupAberdeen Group

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