Both industry watchers and customers are closely watching the effects that virtualization and cloud computing will have on Windows Server's evolution. Most people are embracing the benefits of virtualization, and many are wondering how virtualization relates to the cloud. Businesses want to know what that relationship will mean as they bet their future on Windows Server. The good news is that those very factors-virtualization and the cloud-are the seeds for Windows Server growth and new advantages for business.

We continue to be bullish on Windows Server because we believe that the economics of the cloud will dictate ongoing investments in servers. So it's no surprise to see that in today's report from IDC, "Worldwide Windows Server Operating Environments Forecast for 2011 - 2015," the forecast emphasizes growth.

Windows Server 2008 new license shipments is projected to grow at a 2010-2015 CAGR of 8.7%, and the reason is that customers can build on Windows Server and Hyper-V as they explore the benefits that the cloud can bring. IDC credits Microsoft for evolving Windows Server with Hyper-V to expand the advantages of virtualization: "The recent release of Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 marked an important milestone, not for the operating system itself but rather for the benefit it brought to Hyper-V. It included two technologies that were virtualization related: Dynamic Memory for Hyper-V (for better scale and performance of the base hypervisor) and Remote FX (for better client performance in a virtualized client deployment)."

The report also suggests that virtualization brings with it new opportunities for Windows Server customers.

  • Cloud Integration: While much of the focus today is on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), IDC (and other analyst firms) predict a major shift towards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). With the shift, IDC expects Windows Server and Hyper-V to be integrated with Windows Azure as part of a hybrid cloud solution, in addition to being proven standalone virtualization solutions.
  • Unlimited Virtualization: IDC sees more customers buying premium SKUs that offer better virtualization rights. Because of that, IDC suggests that there will be greater demand for solutions like Windows Server 2008 Datacenter with unlimited virtualization rights.

These findings deliver good news to Windows Server customers. Whether companies are just starting to virtualize or are ready to take advantage of the cloud, Windows Server and Hyper-V are growing because they help businesses ensure success.