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October 25, 2007

Understanding the IT virtualization market

All indicators suggest that the IT virtualization market is going to be one of the biggest areas of focus for enterprises as we head towards the end of the decade. However, with the market still maturing, and with merger and acquisition activity causing indecision at every turn, could Microsoft become the de facto vendor in this space when all the dust settles?

By CBR Staff Writer

The IT virtualization market is gaining significant momentum, and will accelerate even faster over the coming years. Indeed, there will come a point when virtualized server infrastructure, in particular, becomes the de facto way of deploying new IT infrastructure.

Any booming market is bound to attract the attentions of established vendors, and the IT virtualization market is no different. However, with such a grand prize to be had – i.e. underpinning every other IT system in the enterprise – the battle for virtual supremacy is likely to pitch newcomers against established industry vendors.

Trying to analyze the IT virtualization market as a whole is not a particularly useful or easy thing to do at this point in its evolution. We tend to break this large domain down into eight fairly distinct constituencies: 1) hosting and services; 2) enterprise data centers; 3) IT departments; 4) developers and testers; 5) power users; 6) business users; 7) small businesses; and 8) consumers.

Each segment has its own products, solutions, technologies and dynamics, but for the most part we will be keeping an eye on groups 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 – which is plenty to be going on with.

Of the vendors on our radar, two in particular are worth keeping an eye on over the coming months: Citrix and Quest. Citrix is, of course, the one that every IT manager is watching – not least because just about every sizeable organization on the planet has a bit of Citrix technology serving some part of their business. Given the fact that Citrix decided to throw down the gauntlet to Microsoft and VMware earlier this year when it snapped up XenSource, and before that, Ardence, IT managers must now think very carefully about their IT infrastructure and application delivery/access investments.

The other company, Quest, is best tracked through two of its subsidiaries/investments: Invirtus (a provider of virtualization infrastructure management solutions) and Vizioncore (a provider of software applications that enhance VMware’s offerings). Encouraged to work closely together by their parent company Quest, the technologies of both companies could be of interest to Microsoft, VMware, and Citrix.

Quest – a vendor best known for its database, application, and Windows management tools – might just be tempted to cash in on the market boom just as EMC did with VMware earlier this year. However, is the company ready to sell its stake in the game to a bigger player?

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Will Microsoft overtake VMware when it finally ships Windows Server Virtualization (code name ‘Viridian’) in 2008? Well, let’s not rule Citrix out of the game just yet. The company is already a major player in the IT virtualization arena, with its desktop and application virtualization offerings, and its customer base makes VMware look like a start-up. If Citrix comes out of this battle intact at the end of the decade, we can all say hello to a new IT superpower – which would be no bad thing.

Source: OpinionWire by Butler Group (

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