SaaS, virtualisation to grow

A new survey has shown that software as a service and virtualisation are set to continue to grow in UK IT departments in the next two years.

Software as a service (SaaS) and virtualisation will continue to gain ground in IT departments over the next two years, according to new research.

A survey of over 400 European IT directors, commissioned by business communications provider COLT, found that 88 per cent of UK IT directors believe they will increase their use of on-demand software within two years.

Virtualisation is just as popular, the survey suggested. Nearly all - some 94 per cent - of UK businesses said they expected to increase their investment in virtualisation by 2009. While 68 per cent of UK businesses use virtualisation in their servers and data centres, storage virtualisation is used by 56 per cent of respondents and application virtualisation is used by 40 per cent.

"There's a high propensity of server virtualisation in the market today, with type one hypervisors, like those from VMware," said Geoff Gilton, head of managed services products at COLT. "We believe the next wave is to leverage application virtualisation."

Indeed, moving virtualisation to that level could be key to applying service level agreements (SLA) to applications. "We believe it is critical to SaaS model," he said. "This validated our assumptions, to see people adopting virtualisation."

As usual, cutting costs is a key reason for making use of both technologies, the survey found. Gilton said drivers, such as data regulation, globalisation and higher customer expectations, were putting cost and efficiency pressures on businesses.

For virtualisation, two-thirds of respondents said reducing power usage was key, and 92 per cent cited making better use of system capacity. But respondents worried that such technology would increase system complexity and put more pressure on skills and training.

The main benefit of SaaS was the cost savings, while the top concern was security.

"The key thing is the evolution from IT centric to the web-centric of the future," he said.

"Few organisations have the luxury to completely replace their existing IT infrastructure, or move to a fully virtualised, application on-demand strategy in the first instance. The migration path to a web-centric world is likely to be evolutionary, as our data confirms," he said.

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