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Linux Datacenters Virtualize More, See Big TCO Savings

Linux x86 datacenter users are much more likely to use virtualization technology and gain the benefit of significant total-cost-of-ownership savings than Microsoft datacenter users. In some cases, the costs from full virtualization implementations on Linux can approach 60 percent less than similar implementations on Microsoft platforms.

Those were some of the key results of a new whitepaper from the Gabriel Consulting Group, Inc. released to the public Friday. "Virtualization & TCO: Linux vs. Microsoft" stems from Gabriel's 2008 x86 Vendor Preference Survey, which found that Linux-centric customers are implementing virtualization more, in terms of numbers and extent, than Windows-centric users, who are using virtualization less and seeing less benefit from the technology they have implemented.

The whitepaper, currently hosted on IBM's Linux Library, details that 77 percent of self-described predominately Linux users have virtualized at least some of their x86 systems, compared to 59 percent of predominantly Windows users.

When asked about the extent of virtualization, 41 percent of Linux users have virtualization on more than half their boxes, while 29 percent of Microsoft users reported the same amount of use.

According to Dan Olds, Founder and Principal Analyst of the Gabriel Group, these results came out of a much larger survey of 187 x86 datacenter personnel, where respondents self-selected their operating system preferences. The whitepaper itself detailed that very few of the respondents reported complete homogeneity of operating systems, with most datacenters reporting they carried mixed environments. The survey, which is unsponsored by any Gabriel customer, is an annual survey that has been conducted by the Beaverton, OR-based analyst firm for the last four years.

The paper cites Microsoft's recent history in virtualization as one possible reason for Windows users being behind on virtual implementations. Only until recently has Microsoft been willing to support any non-Microsoft virtualization engine, which constrained customers. With Hyper-V, that closed stance has changed, but the paper indicates that "Hyper-V is still quite a ways behind both VMWare and Xen in terms of features, functions, and manageability, meaning that die-hard Microsoft standardizers are probably behind the curve in terms of virtualization implementation."

There are other, more quantifiable reasons for the increased amount of Linux virtualization use. Just 56 percent of Windows users believe that virtualization helps to better utilize hardware, while 77 percent of Linux users realize that benefit.

Linux users also seem to fare better with power and space consumption. When asked if they felt that their data center was running out of electrical capacity, only 26 percent of Linux users agreed with that statement, with 44 percent of Windows users concerned about power. Posed the similar question about floor space, 31 percent of Linux users are looking for more room, and 42 percent of Windows users are feeling cramped.

All of these benefits add up to a lot of money. The whitepaper reports that depending on how servers are deployed and managed, customers can save as much as 60 percent of TCO when using full virtualization. That's the optimum--average savings are in the 20-30 percent range, the paper reported.

Olds indicated that this was the first year of the survey there were enough questions in this area to formulate virtualization results, which were an eye-opener.

"I was somewhat surprised that there was this difference in virtualization that I saw [in the survey]," Olds said.

 

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