Virtualise this

Things are heating up in the virtualisation market, as Microsoft makes its move and VMWare stands ready.

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By  Brid-Aine Conway Published  April 19, 2008

Things are heating up in the virtualisation market, as Microsoft makes its move and incumbent VMWare stands ready. Brid-Aine Conway looks at how the latest developments bring virtualisation ever closer to the mainstream.

The release of Microsoft's hypervisor, Hyper-V, as part of Windows Server 2008 and as a standalone, has laid to rest any doubts anyone might have had about the firm making a serious play in the virtualisation market.

Vendors and pundits have talked up virtualisation to the point where the exciting buzz has become something of a drone, and Microsoft is just one of those vendors putting its money where its mouth is.


We’ve been doing virtualisation now for ten years and we have the most proved, most stable and best performing hypervisor on the market.

A foray into the virtualisation space may not be an easy task for Microsoft, despite its global dominance in the OS market. The market leader in virtualisation, VMWare, has been around for the last ten years and has made a name for itself as the go-to guy for all an enterprise's virtualisation needs.

Thomas Huber, VMWare's regional manager of systems engineering for EMEA Eastern Regions, feels that this good name is going to be a serious advantage in the upcoming market battle.

"We've been doing virtualisation now for ten years and we have the most proved, most stable and best performing hypervisor on the market," he claims.

"The advantage over Microsoft is very clear - we have a full set from the hypervisor, the virtualisation platform to the full management platform with a lot of add-on functionality, beginning with Vmotion, where you can move virtual machines while they're up and running from one hardware to another.

"And we're offering so many additional management products and add-ons to the existing infrastructure that from a simplified management perspective, we see a lot of advantages over the Microsoft technology.

Microsoft is, no question, quite new to virtualisation technology and it will take a while to prove that its technology is as stable as VMWare's already is today," he adds.

Microsoft, however, is not looking to attack VMWare from the front, but from the side, with a little lateral thinking in its marketing strategy. As VMWare deals only with virtualisation technologies, Microsoft is looking at how the management of virtual and physical environments can be integrated.

"Hyper-V itself with Windows Server is not how I look at competing against VMWare and others," says Zane Adam, senior director of virtualisation at Microsoft.

"If you think about the market today, based on external studies, less than 10% of new servers are virtualised, so that's not a large environment, and one of the big hold-ups is the cost, complexity and manageability. So when we look at virtualisation, Hyper-V becomes part of the democratisation of virtualisation technology.

But when you add the value of our management products, which can manage virtual and physical environments together, and then also our desktop and other virtualisation efforts, we actually have a solution that VMWare and others do not bring to market today. So it's not Hyper-V vs VMWare, but it's our virtualisation portfolio vs what's in the market," he continues.

So with VMWare, customers get the ability to move virtual machines while they are running, and with Microsoft, customers manage virtual and physical environments together - which is the kind of technologically innovative manoeuvring from vendors that can only benefit enterprises looking into virtualisation.

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