Virtualization Technology News and Information
Will Microsoft sunset VMware?

Check out this very interesting post from Massimo from  Will VMware become the next Netscape going up against Microsoft's Internet Explorer?  Find out his thoughts:

Now that Microsoft is coming out with their own enterprise virtualization software who's going to buy VMware products any more?". How many times have I heard that? Let me first be very clear before you ever start reading this post: I have a Microsoft background and I have built my own career on that. On the other hand I have been working, during the last few years, with VMware and someone might think that I have a "story" with them now. No I don't have a story with either and I don't have any direct interest in seeing either one or the other winning over the competitor.

As a background the x86 market has now 3 forms of hardware virtualization. These are:

  • VMware hypervisor (ESX - VI3)
  • MS Virtual Server (and specifically its future big brother MS Virtualization code named Viridian)
  • Xen

Xen is an open-source hypervisor that taken alone is not very helpful. You can download it off the University of Cambridge web site and start "recompiling the world" to make it work. If you take Xen as a standalone utility this won't do any good for your business (if you are a student you might have some fun though). That is the reason for which most businesses know Xen under different forms; specifically Xen is now being used as a "line item" in the RedHat and Suse enterprise Linux offerings (since they have integrated it into their distributions, but Xen is also being used as the hypervisor foundation for other OS agnostic virtual infrastructure platforms such as XenSource and VirtualIron. As far as I can see "Xen included in the distributions" is not taking the market by storm and the reasons, in my opinion are:

  • Missing management functionalities: this is not Suse and RedHat primary business so what they have done (so far at least) is to add the open-source code and provide a very basic interface to use it (mostly text base)
  • Not perceived as an agnostic virtual platform: although it can technically support Windows I don't see many customers going crazy to install RedHat or Suse Linux to host their Windows servers
  • Not clear strategy: Suse and RedHat have just added this to their distributions and they are already talking about adding new open source hypervisors (such as the KVM - Kernel Virtual Machine). While this could be a good strategy for a geek I don't think that it's going to interest any "business customer": they don't want "the latest cool stuff", they rather want something stable/solid to run their applications on

And this put XenSource and VirtualIron on the spot. Apparently the idea to bundle Xen with a suite of management tools that are OS agnostic is getting attention in this industry. To make a long story short their strategy is very close to what VMware has been trying to do in the last few years: provide a backbone "value added" virtual server infrastructure capable of running multiple and agnostic workloads. And you can tell they are trying to do what VMware has done ... have you ever looked at the VirtualIron 3.5 management interface? If you are used to VMware VirtualCenter it will take between 10 and 15 seconds to get used to this GUI. Well maybe more but you get the point.

However, while there is lots of interest in these new solutions, VMware remains king of the hill and they certainly maintain the mindshare for being "the virtualization company". There is no doubt that both VirtualIron and XenSource will make good strides into this market though. However, looking ahead, with some level of confidence we can say that if Xen is going to make storm-like damages to VMware ... MS Viridian, also known as Windows Virtualization will likely have the potential of causing hurricane-like devastations (to VMware).

This is true for a number of reasons...

...first being that Viridian will be close in terms of performance, architecture and features to VI3 (so in a nutshell nothing to do with the current MS Virtual Server product).

The other reason is that MS is a marketing machine and despite the fact that the product is good or bad as long as it has the Microsoft label in front of it, it will get LOTS of visibility.

Last but not least most of these functions will be embedded into the OS costs so the MS value proposition will be "free" or very cheap depending on how they will decide to license some add-on management features.

Read the entire post, here.


Published Tuesday, April 17, 2007 6:42 AM by David Marshall
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