When does it make sense to use a Virtual Server as opposed to a Physical Server? That’s a question that a lot of people are currently discussing amongst themselves and with us on the technology side.

Before an organization can think of using Physical or Virtual Servers, they will need to be aware of Virtualization as a whole.

Forrester Research recently reported that the number of IT organizations implementing or piloting virtualization reached and exceeded 50% in 2006 with the split being roughly 40% implementations and 11% piloting. The growth year on year was about 11% for implementations and flat for piloting. The number of respondents that were aware of virtualization stands at 92%, with only 8% professing to know nothing about the technology.

I’d say that awareness of virtualization is pretty high among our readers, but we all know someone who is just happy in their distributed server single instance world, either they haven’t had any situations where virtualization was an answer, or more likely, they can’t quite grok the concept of what is going on.

Rackspace (a hosting provider) recently polled their own customers (and therefore already a savvy bunch) and found that 57% of their hosting customers had virtualized infrastructure and over 70% of those surveyed said they would host mission-critical apps on virtualized platforms.

Not surprisingly,  of those surveyed who would host such applications on a virtual platform, over 70% said it would be preferable to do so with a hosted provider’s help, like say, Rackspace?  Also not a shocker was the fact that of the 60%+ that didn’t currently use virtualization said they would try it with the help of a hosting provider, again, Rackspace.

The reasons customers used virtualization turned out to be primarily Development and Testing (37%), followed by Web Applications with (22%) and lastly Application Servers at (12%).  No mention of virtualized firewalls or storage.

Last but not least was the mix of virtualization platforms and vendors, with VMWare (60%) Microsoft’s Virtual Server (14%) and Xen (11%).  Of course our own SLES 10 SP1 uses the Xen hypervisor to great advantage, you can get an evaluation version (no timeout, but limited support for 60 days) for any of the platforms you support.