IDC predicts that 2010 will be the first year that virtual machine shipments will outnumber shipments of physical servers. IDC estimates that more than half of all workloads were virtualized by the end of 2010 and expects that greater than two- thirds will be virtualized by 2013. Virtual machine density (or virtual machines per physical server) will rise from an average of five VMs per physical server in 2008 to more than eight per physical server by 2013. Further, IDC expects that by 2013 more
than 80 million virtual and physical servers will be installed.
This robust adoption of VMs by the industry is a strong and powerful indicator of the market's comfort with virtual technologies. However, if VMs are deployed over the next five years as they have been for the past five years — in-house, with ceaseless growth in complexity and requirements for systems management — the number of headaches and sleepless nights will grow exponentially.
Growth in VMs Leads to Spiraling Operational Costs
Virtualization has helped enterprises reduce their physical server sprawl, drive consolidation, and increase server utilization. This has helped lower up-front capital costs and extends the life of the datacenter and drives up the levels of availability; however, many organizations are arriving at the hard realization that virtual machines are not in fact a cure-all for the woes of physical server sprawl. The shift from physical machines to virtual machines has yielded some very real economic benefits to organizations, particularly in terms of reduced capital costs and operating costs for areas such as power and cooling. But other cost elements have continued to spiral out of control, namely the personnel costs to manage and maintain the server environment. In fact, because of the explosion in growth in virtual machines in the datacenter, IDC forecasts that management and administration expenses to maintain virtual servers will grow to become the largest single element of server spending by 2013 (see Figure 2).