The worldwide x86 server virtualisation market is expected to reach $5.6 billion in 2016, an increase of 5.7 percent from 2015, reports Gartner.
But despite this overall market increase, new software licenses have declined for the first time since this market became mainstream more than a decade ago.
Growth is now being driven by maintenance revenue, which indicates a rapidly maturing software market segment, reports Michael Warrilow, research director at Gartner.
"The market has matured rapidly over the last few years, with many organisations having server virtualisation rates that exceed 75 percent, illustrating the high level of penetration," says Warrilow, in a statement.
In his latest report on the global trends for x86 server virtualisation, Warrilow points out the market remains dominated by a single vendor (VMware), with only one major contender (Microsoft) for most enterprise use cases, plus several niche alternatives (such as Citrix, Oracle and Red Hat).
While server virtualisation remains the most common infrastructure platform for x86 server OS workloads in on-premises data centres, the report notes that the impact of new computing styles and approaches will be increasingly significant for this market. This includes OS container-based virtualisation and cloud computing.
The trends are varying by organisation size more than ever before.
What was considered as the best approach to greater infrastructure agility only a few years ago, is becoming challenged by an array of newer infrastructure choices.
According to Gartner, usage of server virtualisation among organisations with larger IT budgets remained stable in the past two years.
It continues to be an important and heavily used technology for these businesses, but this market segment is approaching saturation. In contrast, organisations with smaller IT budgets expect a further decline in usage through to at least 2017. This is causing an overall decline in new spending for on-premises server virtualisation.
Gartner believes that organisations are increasing their usage of "physicalisation”, choosing to run servers without virtualisation software.
More than 20 per cent of these organisations expect to have less than one-third of their x86 server OSs virtualised by 2017 — twice the amount reported for 2015. However, the underlying rationales remain varied.
The rise of software-defined infrastructure (SDI) and hyperconverged integrated systems (HCIS) are providing new options.
It has put pressure on best-of-breed virtualisation vendors to add more out-of-the-box functionality and provide a better experience and faster time-to-value.
"What was considered as the best approach to greater infrastructure agility only a few years ago, is becoming challenged by an array of newer infrastructure choices," says Warrilow.
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