Virtualization trends in 2007 and industry predictions for 2008

As usual at the last post of the year reviews how virtualization grew, which trends emerged and where the industry seems to go through the numbers achieved in the last 12 months.

First of all the look for virtualization contents continues to increase, with a healthy 50% growth from previous year:

Excluding a couple of new entries (which replaced Switzerland and Japan), top countries showing interest in virtualization didn’t change since 2006:

  1. US
  2. UK
  3. Germany
  4. Canada
  5. Netherlands
  6. Italy
  7. France
  8. Australia
  9. Spain [NEW]
  10. Sweden [NEW]

Most visited posts during 2007 reveal new interests among readers:

  1. How to create a new virtual machine with VMware Player (and related: Guide to create .vmx files for VMware Player, How to launch ISO and use LiveCDs inside VMware Player, Create VMware VMX configuration files easily, VMX Builder for VMware Player)
  2. How to install Sun Solaris 10 inside VMware Workstation 5.5
  3. Virtualization Industry Roadmap
  4. Virtualization Industry Radar [NEW]
  5. VMware ESX Server 3.1.0 / VirtualCenter 2.1.0 features list – Updated with full details (and related: VMware Infrastructure 3.1 renamed 3.5, hits beta 2 – Updated with full details, VMware Infrastructure 3.5 and ESX Server 3i to be available since December 2007 with new prices and editions) [NEW]
  6. Microsoft publishes a license calculator for virtualization scenarios [NEW]
  7. How to improve disk I/O performances with VMware Workstation
  8. Rent-A-Lab [NEW]
  9. Choosing between VMware Server and ESX Server [NEW]
  10. Virtualization Industry Predictions [NEW]

How many forecasts from famous analyst firms really happened in 2007?

This year several things were expected:

  • 9 of 10 enterprises will have virtualization by 2007 (August 2007 prediction by Yankee Group)
    Probably false: VMware, which is the most prominent virtualization vendor at the end of 2007, reports only 20,000 enterprise customers worldwide, not even 100% of Fortune 500.
  • Automation to play a strong role in managing virtualization resources by next 18 months (January 2007 prediction by IDC)
    To be false: automation didn’t play any significant role in the 2007 and it’s unlikely the situation will suddenly change in the first half of 2008.
  • Virtualization 2.0 (continuity, DR, HA) to emerge in 2007 (December 2006 prediction by IDC)
    False: disaster recovery still is one of the most empty segments in the virtualization market. Several innovative solutions (from VMware, PlateSpin, Vizioncore and others) are in the work but they will not get any traction until next year.
  • Brazil to widely adopt virtualization in 2007 (August 2006 prediction by Gartner)
    False: Brazil didn’t appear as a key virtualization adopter on any stat during 2007. Google Trends doesn’t report the country among top 10 searcher for virtualization or other relevant keywords, and the search volume in 2007 didn’t grow much compared with 2005 and 2006. confirms such trend reporting the country at 16th position among most active sources of visits.
  • VMware to maintain 55% market share over next 12-15 months (July 2006 prediction by Yankee Group)
    True: VMware is reported to maintain a market share of around 70% in 2007.

What to expect for next year instead?

Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition will allow one free virtual machine

The unexpected announcement of Hyper-V beta 1 this December brought another major news which passed almost unobserved: besides having 4 licensed virtual machines for Enterprise Edition and unlimited licensed virtual machines for Datacenter Edition, now Microsoft allows 1 licensed VM for Standard Edition.

This change in the licensing scheme is very welcome and will simplify adoption of new hypervisor in small companies where only one service must be isolated (typically the web server).

Release: VMware ESX Server 3i

Ten days after the much awaited launch of VI3.5 (aka ESX Server 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5), VMware is ready to release the special version of ESX Server called 3i.

ESX Server 3i completely drops the so called Console Operating System (COS), based on a customized Red Hat Enterprise Linux distro, and appears as a lightweight 32MB liveCD (no need for hard disk installation).

The new architecture is offered today as a parallel version, but VMware clarified in several occasions that this is the future of ESX Server.

The product was originally planned for OEM distribution only, pre-installed inside Solid State Drives (SSD) by Dell, IBM, HP and others popular vendors, but VMware is now offering it as stand-alone download.

Unfortunately the only two servers which are supported in this first release (build 67921) are Dell 2950 and HP DL380 G5 (experimental support).

The amount of features included in stand-alone ESX Server 3i is limited (just the vSMP and the VMFS support, you’ll need VirtualCenter bundles to get more) but the starting price is very interesting: $459 (without support). Any VirtualCenter 2.5 is able to support and manage it.

Download it here.

Xen roadmap emerges, porting to mobile devices may appear in the future

On its corporate blog Barry Flanagan, Xen Technology Evangelist at Citrix, provides some interesting informations emerged during the last Xen Summit. One of them is the roadmap defined for the open source hypervisor, Xen, which is the key component of virtualization plaforms from Virtual Iron, Novell, Red Hat, Sun and obviously Citrix:


  • Performance and scalability optimizations
  • Enable Smart IO devices
  • SCSI pass-through


  • Domain0 disaggregation; XSM Xen Security Modules
  • Secure boot, TPM, certification, multi-level secure systems


  • Power management
  • Suspend and hibernate; Clock management
  • 3D video direct h/w access; high-performance guest virtualization
  • USB device pass-through

Another key information lays in the project statement, re-iterated now that XenSource has been acquired by Citrix:

  • Build the industry standard open source hypervisor core engine that is incorporated into multiple vendors’ products
  • Be first to exploit new hardware acceleration features
  • Help OS vendors paravirtualize their OSes
  • Security must now be paramount
  • Support multiple CPU types; big and small systems from server to client to mobile
  • Foster innovation to be a great platform for research and experimentation
  • Drive interoperability between Xen-based products and other virtualization products

During the entire 2007 several indication from multiple vendors (including VMware) partially revealed the intention to port hypervisors on mobile architectures, so 2008 may be the year for first attempts in this direction.

Hyper-V will not boot virtual SCSI devices

An unexpected bad news closes the year: from its corporate blog Anthony F. Voellm, Principal Software Development Lead of Hyper-V at Microsoft, reveals that the upcoming hypervisor will not boot from virtual SCSI hard drives.

There are two types of disk controllers that Hyper-V supports: SCSI and IDE. There are two IDE controllers and four SCSI controllers available.

Each IDE controller can have two devices. You can not boot from a SCSI controller. This means an IDE disk will be required. The boot disk will be IDE controller 0 Device 0. If you want a CDROM it will consume an IDE device slot…

It wouldn’t be a problem if only virtual SCSI would provide no benefits over virtual IDE. But it’s quite the opposite:

…The IDE controller implements a well-known IDE controller and this means there is extra processing before the I/O is sent to the disk. This processing occurs in vmwp.exe (a user mode process that exists for each started VM. More on this in a later post). Once the IDE emulation is complete the I/O is sent into the Root Partition’s I/O Stack. I/O completion requires a trip back to vmwp.exe.

The SCSI controller is not emulated. The SCSI controller uses VMBUS (Virtual Machine BUS. More on this in a later post). The I/O’s pass from the Child (aka Guest) Partition to the root over VMBUS and enter the I/O stack. You can already see one less process/machine context switch is required because vmwp.exe does not get invoked. Once and I/O completes its completion is sent over VMBUS…

So performance bottleneck of virtual IDE and technical limitations of virtual SCSI will oblige customers to have two virtual disks for each VM. A configuration hard to setup in P2V migration scenarios, and hard to manage on large scale deployments.

VMware pricing policy continues to disappoint

Quoting from SearchServerVirtualization:

For one thing, “they act like Oracle did in the 1990s — like they’re the only ones,” adding that “they’re still totally predatory on their pricing.”

His company has spent several hundreds of thousands of dollars with VMware and recently inked an enterprise license agreement (ELA) without seeing any savings from buying ESX licenses individually. “You’d think that if you sign a deal to spend a couple million bucks over the next two years, you’d get a discount,” he grumbled. But that hasn’t been the case. In fact, he continues to receive better price quotes from value-added resellers (VARs) than he does by going directly to VMware.

With the lack of mature virtualization alternatives on the market, the source said he is comfortable signing a two-year ELA, but no longer. In the next three or four years, other players may emerge with credible enterprise stories. “As soon as the critical point hits, people are going to switch [to other virtualization vendors] if they continue treating people this way.” …

Read the whole article at the source.

Release: PlateSpin PowerConvert 6.8

Just before the end of the year PlateSpin releases a relevant minore update to its flagship product PowerConvert.

The new version 6.8 introduces some remarkable updates which clearly expose how the company is looking at Microsoft like never in the past:

  • Enhanced migration (P2V Server Sync via Take Control) for Windows source OS (through live snapshot plus incremental copy of modified data during P2V conversion)

  • Support for Microsoft Virtual Server R2 Service Pack 1 as destination virtualization platform
  • Support for Windows Volume Shadow Service (VSS) as snapshot method
  • Support for Windows 2000 Update Rollup 1 as source OS
  • Support for encrypted (FIPS) virtual hard drives and partitions in Windows source OS
  • Support for logical volumes (through LVM) in Linux source OS
  • Bandwidth compression and throttling for block-based transfer

The Virtualization Industry Roadmap has been updated accordingly.

Springboard Research indicates potential acquisitions in virtualization market

ComputerWorld reports that:

Springboard Research has identified Citrix, Virtual Iron and SWSoft as prime candidates for acquisition in 2008 as part of its list of hot predictions for the new year.

The article doesn’t reveal much more than that but it’s a good excuses to consider who may want to buy Citrix, Virtual Iron or SWsoft.

First of all both Citrix and Virtual Iron base their hypervisor on Xen, so a buyer looking for a virtualization vendor would consider one or another probably because of other factors, like the financial situation, the sales channel size, the partners programs, and obviously the acquisition budget.

From a strategical point of view, Citrix based its dominance on the terminal services market so far, which is too reliant on Microsoft technologies to be interesting for any other company but Microsoft.

But at the same time Citrix made several key acquisitions in the application streaming and virtualization domains buying Ardence and XenSource: Microsoft may want to acquire those technologies only in case its own, coming from Connectix and Softricity acquisitions, demonstrated to be too weak.

It’s unlikely Microsoft may want to acquire Citrix to remove an uncomfortable competitor, considering the two act as good partners even if they will actually compete in the virtualization market as soon as Microsoft will release Hyper-V next year.

Virtual Iron surely is less expensive than Citrix, and may be the preferred choice for those companies which want to enter just the virtualization market without facing a huge investment.

The company may be an acquisition target for those vendors like IBM, Novell or Red Hat, which base a part or the entire business on Linux.

Despite the good success obtained by its subsidiary Parallels, SWsoft is mostly interesting because of its OS virtualization technology Virtuozzo, which conquered a large portion of web hosting market.

Also this technology may be interesting for Microsoft which stated one year and a half ago that OS virtualization is another area where to invest.

SWsoft acquires WebHost Automation

After acquiring most web hosting automation companies in mid 2006, SWsoft (to be Parallels) isn’t happy enough and closes the 2007 shopping year with WebHost Automation.

Quoting from the official announcement:

SWsoft today announced it has acquired WebHost Automation Ltd., maker of the Helm control panel and billing software for Windows with nearly 1.5 million end users worldwide. WebHost Automation is based in Bristol, U.K.

For SWsoft, the acquisition adds a significant worldwide customer base, including strong positions in the U.K. and South America. It also extends the reach of independent software vendors (ISVs) who package their software using the Application Packaging Standard (APS) to more end users who can take advantage of their software solutions. Helm customers benefit from an increased range of automation solutions from SWsoft.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed. Both companies are privately held…