Virtualization is gathering steam among user organizations as a survey published last week reveals. The survey's publication coincided with an announcement by Microsoft that it would give away its Virtual Server for freeMicrosoft announced that Virtual Server 2005 R2 is now free. The product launched in 2004 and previously sold in two versions - an Enterprise Edition for $999 and a Standard Edition for $499. R2 has replaced both editions and is available as a free download.The product also supports Linux as a guest operating system.Meanwhile, International Network Services (INS) released a survey that showed that 86% of the respondents are involved in exploring, testing or using virtualization technology.The survey of 100 IT professionals showed that IT has some hurdles to overcome in deploying server virtualization - among them are lack of staff experiences and identifying those applications that are unaffected by virtualization.Respondents indicated that they were interested in implementing virtualization to improve disaster recovery, to lower administrative costs and to save money on hardware and software. Other objectives of virtualization are to increase the floor space in the data center and increase measurability.According to the survey, 29% of organizations are using virtualization in production and development environments. Another 13% are in the process of virtualizing their production environments and 11% are virtualizing their development servers. Only 14% say they have no plans to deploy virtualization.While virtualization is a relatively new technology, 80% of the respondents have talked to a vendor about it. Respondents said VMware is the best at getting its message out, followed by Microsoft.