Amid all the talk of hot tech trends like cloud and mobile, virtualization tends to take a backseat in analyst predictions and projections. However, the technology could prove to be a key competitive advantage—and small businesses stand to gain the most.

In a report recently published by Cisco, www.cisco.com, San Jose, Calif., 96% of small businesses that are currently using virtualization believed the technology provides them with an advantage. Those small businesses that have yet to virtualize see the benefit as well. According to the report, 80% of small businesses that don’t have virtualization remain confident in the ability for the technology to provide their firm with a competitive advantage.

Examining the trend, it looks as if more IT departments are indeed pursuing the benefits of virtualization. But the factors driving its adoption remain varied. Respondents to Cisco’s survey most often cited the manner in which virtualization has helped improve system scalability as the primary benefit. Naturally other factors such as lower unit cost for IT and business flexibility were listed often by respondents as well.

An interesting tidbit from the report reveals the majority of IT professionals believe virtualization is meant to replace 25-50% of their internal infrastructure. When it comes to the level of executives pushing the value of this technology, the report reveals upper management remains much more confident in virtualization’s benefits when compared with middle managers.

Of course with any technology, the barriers to adoption do indeed exist with regards to virtualization. Cisco points out the fact many small businesses are “treading lightly” and remain what can be considered in early adoption phase with things like basic file and print servers. Regarding those barriers to entry, things like cost and security remain high on the list.

In construction, things like desktop virtualization as a means to access enterprise applications remains high on the list. But some interesting developments have occurred in this market during the year that may continue to push this trend forward.

Look no further than the announcement back in May from NVIDIA GRID, www.nvidia.com, Santa Clara, Calif., and Citrix, www.citrix.com Santa Clara, Calif., regarding graphics for virtualized desktops. The companies introduced HDX GPU sharing and deep compression in XenDesktop 7, which means construction companies can use the Microsoft Windows Server RDSH and XenDesktop 7 platform to enable the sharing of GPUs (graphics processing units) across multiple user sessions.

This can prove to be very valuable for the collaborative nature of construction where multiple participants need access to the model.