ciscoVirtualization isn’t just for large, enterprise-scale businesses: a nationwide study of Cisco partners revealed that virtualization of one type or another is in place at 77% of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and that’s expected to increase.

Seventy-one percent of survey respondents said they have increased budget allocations for virtualization up to 20% over the next two years, according to a Cisco FlexPod Express Study entitled,“Virtualization at Small and Medium Sized Firms on the Rise.”

Among the study’s key findings:

  • 91% of all respondents said that virtualization implementations provide their companies with a competitive advantage over those without
  • 96% of those who were already employing virtualization solutions felt they were gaining an advantage
  • 71% of those who don’t currently have virtualization in place agreed it could provide them an edge over the competition

The following were identified as virtualization’s top benefits,

  • Improved system scalability (61%)
  • Lower unit cost for IT (51%)
  • Business flexibility (48%)
  • IT productivity improvements (44%)
  • Better business continuity (37%)
  • Reduced energy costs (35%)
  • Better client services (24%)

Though widely used and well established, 40% of information workers said they had not heard of server or desktop virtualization, according to a recent Cisco whitepaper. “While the lack of knowledge in the workspace is intriguing, it perhaps says the most about how well IT managers and other high-level executives are integrating virtualization into their companies,”  the study’s executive summary says.

“While more publicly known trends such as BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) and cloud computing are dominating headlines, virtualization is creating a more efficient IT department behind the scenes.”

Other highlights of the report include:

  • 95% of respondents who have virtualization in place are seeing an immediate impact on efficiency and cost reduction and 96% feel having virtualization gives them a competitive advantage
  • Larger companies are making virtualization more of a priority, as 80% of firms with 100 to 500 employees have funds in their IT budget dedicated to virtualization compared to only 50% of firms with less than 100 employees that have dedicated such funding
  • Upper and middle management remain divided on the benefits of virtualization, as 70% of upper management believe virtualization has caused a significant impact on efficiency and cost-savings compared to only 45% of middle management who thought this
  • Of firms that don’t have virtualization in place, 61% of middle managers said cost stands as the biggest barrier