Microsoft Versus VMware: Round II

Michael Vizard

As virtualization technologies become more a part of the mainstream fabric of IT, issues that previously were not that big of a concern are now starting to gain some traction.

The first is the sheer cost of virtualization. It's taken longer than most initially thought for Microsoft's effort to bundle its Hyper-V virtual machine platform with release 2.0 of its Windows Server 2008 platform to build some momentum. But now that the economy has turned and IT organizations are contemplating acquiring new servers, many of them are starting to see the cost of VMware software as an additional expense that can be avoided. It was one thing to consolidate legacy servers by licensing VMware software, but as they move to acquire new servers, many IT organizations are discovering that the combination of Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center 2012 tools suddenly makes VMware appear to be a fairly expensive proposition.

This issue, which will be explored in depth during a webinar on how to build a private cloud that will be held May 10th and can be found here, is going to the heart of the next major battle in the war between VMware, which currently dominates the virtualization landscape in the enterprise, and Microsoft, which is trying to turn virtualization into a feature of the operating system.

According to Ken Young, managing director for Microsoft platforms at DynTek Services, an IT services firm that partners with both Microsoft and VMware, one of the things that IT organizations like best about the Microsoft approach is that Microsoft System Center 2012 tools can be used to manage both Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines. The simple fact of the matter, says Young, is that IT organizations are going to have to manage both environments side by side for years to come. Rather than trying to do that with separate tool sets, Young says many IT organizations will look to use the tool that is most extensible in terms of supporting multiple virtual machine environments, especially if they already have access to that tool via an existing Microsoft licensing agreement.

In the short term, we're currently witnessing a 'sprawl and stall' phenomenon when it comes to virtualization. It's easy to spin up virtual machines, at least until the limited amount of available memory and storage adversely affects performance. At the same time, a lack of access to sophisticated management tools makes it difficult for IT organizations to realistically manage hundreds of virtual servers. But as more robust Windows servers get deployed that come with access to new systems management tools, these issues will start to dissipate. And as that process occurs, the folks at Microsoft are betting that their approach to virtualization is going to start resonating with customers a whole lot more.

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