Blog post

The future of server virtualization

By Michael Warrilow | January 10, 2018 | 0 Comments


x86-based server virtualisation has changed. It has rapidly evolved and is now a mature market.

So, analysis of the market needs to change too.

The future can be scary (image source:

In broad terms, virtualisation can be considered a method of abstracting an underlying technology layer. This provides productivity benefits via an agreed interface that standardises underlying complexity. Virtualisation, therefore, comes in multiple forms, ranging from network (virtual local-area networks), to storage (volumes), to application (Java Virtual Machines) and beyond.

With a mature market, such as x86 server virtualisation, there’s less need for a formal evaluation, such as a Magic Quadrant.

So please welcome Gartner’s Market Guide for Virtualization of x86 Server Infrastructure (paywall), published late December 2017. This Market Guide focuses on three market categories of virtualised compute offerings for server environments:

  • x86 server virtualisation (hypervisor)
  • VM-integrated containers
  • x86 operating system (OS) virtualisation (Linux and Windows containers)

We looked at vendors including Citrix, Huawei, Microsoft, Nutanix, Oracle, Red Hat and VMware. Because of this type of research, there was more scope to mention free and open-source software too. But we also make it clear why Docker wasn’t included in this report.

In 2018, we’ll also publish a Market Guide specific to China where there are many different players.


As the above diagram illustrates, alternative / adjacent markets now exist across the App Dev / Infra & Ops divide as well as across on- and off-prem. This requires sufficient understanding of public cloud, hosting, private cloud and on-prem virtualisation. Relevant Magic Quadrants include IaaS and PaaS – be it integration PaaS or enterprise high-productivity PaaS. Other relevant docs include Market Guides for Container Management Software and Public Cloud Container Services.

Our advice to clients: embrace a bimodal approach to compute virtualisation, taking advantage of infrastructure refresh opportunities and determining strategic fit and overlap with adjacent technology.

Welcome to the future of server virtualisation!


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