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Gartner's Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure

July 30, 2015

It is not that often that Gartner Group releases a ton of detail about its magic quadrants. For that reason alone, the availability of the Magic Quadrant report on x86 server virtualization infrastructure for 2015, by analysts Thomas J. Bittman, Philip Dawson and Michael Warrilow, is a great read for all of us who follow data center infrastructure transformation. 

Without further suspense, below is the latest Magic Quadrant for x86 server virtualization infrastructure.

There are no surprises here. VMware and Microsoft continue to occupy the coveted upper right hand corner for a host of reasons including VMware’s market dominance which is why even such household names as Citrix, Huawei, Odin, Oracle, and Red Hat are “niche players.”

I will not spoil the fun of the authors’ views regarding strengths and weaknesses—as enumerated in the report—except to pull out a few choice observations. For example, Gartner points out that: “About 75 percent of x86 architecture workloads have been virtualized on servers. The vast majority are virtualized in virtual machines, but containers are rejuvenating as a virtualization option, driven by easy-to-use developer frameworks, container standards, microservice application demands and cloud computing in general.” This means that on the horizon is deployment of a hybrid cloud, further containerization and the increasing importance of open source solutions as enterprise IT departments look to less expensive alternatives and choose the wisdom of the crowd and their own expertise to customize things. 

In fact, in regard to open source software and as a caveat on the Magic Quadrant, Gartner cautions that:

Magic Quadrants are used to evaluate the commercial sales execution, vision, marketing and support of products within markets, which excludes evaluation of full open-source software (OSS). The x86 server virtualization infrastructure Magic Quadrant includes only commercial-vendor-based offerings, and it does not include individual positions and evaluations for OSS projects, such as Xen, KVM, OpenVZ or LXC. We estimate that approximately 25% of the virtualization VMs and containers are based on a full open-source acquisition and support process, often customized by the user.

The authors also point out that while Cloud service providers like AWS and Google have the resources to fully leverage open source solutions, enterprises looking to emulate this better have the resources to do it right since getting it done incorrectly or poorly has significant consequences and costs.

Image via Shutterstock

The net of all of this is that all of the vendors in the space, even those who have embraced open source, have a lot to think about as the data centers continue to become more virtualized in terms of their competitiveness. That said, however, it is also important to remember that Magic Quadrants are snap shots in time. Realities are, as Gartner itself concludes, most enterprises are both heavily virtualized and heavily invested in their solutions providers. In short, data center customers rightfully are looking at which workloads to virtualize, how, when, where and why and by whom. 

Therefore, despite the dynamics in the market we are looking at the emergence of alternatives, and this is a market undergoing evolutionary and not necessarily revolutionary change. While the future of the data center is likely to be one characterized by a move now to hybrid clouds and containerization, like good wine these changes will take time. If nothing else, as food for thought putting this one on your “must read” list is certainly recommended. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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