Virtualization

Microsoft comes to the virtualization market late, should VMWare be concerned?

In a move that is so rare it is a little stunning, Microsoft announced the availability of a product ahead of schedule. Hyper-V, their first generation hypervisor, has released to manufacturing and should hit the market shortly.

In a move that is so rare it is a little stunning, Microsoft announced the availability of a product ahead of schedule. Hyper-V, their first-generation hypervisor, has released to manufacturing and should hit the market shortly. Reviews have been generally good, though everyone (except Microsoft) admits that Microsoft's offering is not anywhere near as robust as their competitors' products, which makes sense since VMWare, Virtual Iron, and Citrix have a huge head start in the virtualization market. However, with 69% of respondents in a recent survey saying that they would test Hyper-V versus 59% for VMWare, Microsoft is poised to make a major splash, just as they have in every market they have ever entered.

Hyper-V is not hype (News.com)

VMWare has been characteristically quiet about the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but there has been some criticism of Microsoft's new product.

From a pure hypervisor standpoint, VMware's ESX product is far more mature. However, in comparing hypervisor features, I believe Microsoft has made great strides in catching up to VMware. One of the big missing components in Hyper-V is the ability to offer live migration, or what VMware calls VMotion. And to be fair, VMware has spent a lot of time and money to extend its hypervisor by expanding its application stack around the product -- an area where I believe the ultimate hypervisor fight is going to end up.

The only announcement from VMWare was a report that shows strong support for their products in the educational market, with most of the top schools in the country including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford all running VMWare in their environments.

Hyper-V talk around the virtual water cooler (InfoWorld)

Leading Universities Rely on VMware... (Sys-Con)

Personally, I think the 59-69% disparity in evaluation plans has to do with the fact that many of the people who said that they are planning to evaluate Microsoft and not VMWare have already done their VMWare evaluations or even moved on to pushing machines into production. Still, this development has to be as scary for VMWare executives as it has been for their shareholders since the share price has dropped significantly after Microsoft dropped their bomb. These executives certainly should be concerned given Microsoft's history when they move into new markets. VMWare has enough of an install base (and revenue) to avoid suffering the same fate as Netscape in the short term, but the company's leaders need to continue to innovate in order to keep their technology lead over a company with limitless dollars to throw at R&D. Do you think that VMWare needs to be concerned?

31 comments
julian2971
julian2971

VM need to be concerned, MS will offer better support for windows, and the licencing will end up far cheaper than ESX

Craig_B
Craig_B

VMware is the leader and has very good products and charge a lot for the products. Now MS comes along and basically gives Hyper-V away for free. If you have not already made an investment in VMware and you have Windows 2008 server, it's not a big jump to just start using Hyper-V. If you are a VMware customer, when it comes time to pay for renewal you may evaluate MS, Xen or whatever. The bottom line is VMware can not just sit back, they need to release new products and lower prices to stay ahead. If they wait, they will loose out to the MS machine.

s31064
s31064

It all depends on how it's marketed. If, like Virtual PC and Virtual Server, it's going to be a free download, VMware will become the next Novell. If they (Microsoft) intend to charge for Hyper-V, even if they're in the same price range, VMware probably has nothing to worry about. We have a strategic partner that provides all of their demos and training in VMware images. When they provide a new image, we simply convert it to a Microsoft vhd and avoid all of the licensing issues.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

VMware Player would run those images locally for you. If your hosting out to staff then it's not mission critical and you could probably use VMware Server version 1 which is also available at no cost. It may save you converting and loosing the better hardware support.

IT Generalist
IT Generalist

s31064, Are those VMWare images that you are converting to Microsoft VHD used in production evironment? If they are then how do you make sure that these systems are available in case of a disaster?

Daemeon.Reiydelle
Daemeon.Reiydelle

Microsoft can be expected to use proprietary, undisclosed, and shifing interfaces to make their product superior, and break VMWare when possible. Think Netscape. VMWare is toast. Yes there will be lawsuits, but the US courts don't get anti-competitive behaviour, while Congressmen get contributions.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

There is little question that MS will employ dirty tricks and anyone who gains MS attention had better decide on ther lowest buyout price or ready for a fight. VMware is crossplatform though and Windows Server is not even close to the kind of platform you want between your VM framework and the physical hardware. You may as well install an OS on an old P2 if your going to run VMs over a Windows host OS.

rcseattle
rcseattle

Hyper-V competes directly with GSX, not ESX. VMWare gives away GSX, they make their money on ESX. That said, however, Microsoft has a way of catching up fast on tech when they enter a field and crushing competition.

wdurani
wdurani

Actually, Hyper-V would directly compete with ESX as it is consider a type 1 (native or bare-metal) hypervisor that runs directly on a given hardware platform. VMWare GSX Server, VMWare Workstation, Microsoft Virtual PC, Microsoft Virtual Server are all consider as Type 2 (hosted) hypervisor that runs within an operating system environment.

cbader
cbader

You have to run Hyper-V on 64 bit versions of Server 2008, it is not a bare metal program. That being said, it doesnt run that good. I installed it on a server that was only three months old. It didnt recognize the NIC so I had no network connectivity, the data exchange feature between the host and guest operating system didnt work and there is no USB functionality built in so my flash drive wouldnt work, so I had no way of installing additional drivers. I ended up reinstalling 2003 and running VMware server. Ive had no problems using VMWare, and doing p2v and v2v migrations have run flawlessly. Why change?

chris.jackson
chris.jackson

As WDuran said this is not about the existing Microsoft Virtual PC / Virtual Server this is a new technology 'a type 1 hypervisor' that does not sit on top of an existing Windows install. This is the same difference between VMware Server (sits on Windows or Linux) for free with ~75% resources passed between the real hardware and the VMs and VMware ESX which runs directly on the hardware with ~98% resources passing between the physical hardware and the VMs. The other comments / suggestions about embeding in silicon are outdated as this is something VMware has been offering in conjunction with vendors like Dell for 6 months+ now. Embedded VMware - VMware ESXi "Build virtual machines in minutes with this easy-to-deploy OS-independent hypervisor. Virtualize processor, memory, storage and networking resources into multiple virtual machines with VMware ESXi, an enterprise-class hypervisor with a thin 32 MB footprint. VMware ESXi is available integrated into server systems..."

Hogsbreath
Hogsbreath

I agree that Hyper-V requires a host (Win2k8 server) to run on. Which brings up a security issue, at least for our environment. How secure is Windows 2k8 server to begin with, and then compare to ESX (small linux kernel) especially if it is running embedded in the firmware of the server? Do you want your virtual servers running on a hosted system with Windows server as the platform? Micro$oft products have long been the chosen target for attacks by Malware and virus authors. I think that Hyper-V will be subject to attacks in the future and in turn all of your servers running on the Hyper-V platform. This is something that Micro$oft will have to take into consideration, and all admins should consider before deploying Hyper-V in the enterprise.

wdurani
wdurani

technically hyper-v and esx both require a host. As you mentioned that ESX is based on a very light weight, customized Linux kernet, Hyper-V uses a very stripped down windows kernel. What to note is that both hypervisors (hyper-v and ESX)are trying to do the same thing: host OS is no longer the go-between for the VM Server and the hardware. There are, ofcourse, some differences between the two hypervisors as to how they handle drivers, etc. I have not tested hyper-v to see how it compares with ESX. At this point, I am sure it doesn't compare that well. But Microsoft is known to improve their products. Other thing to note is that hyper-v is not necessarily free. It is a server role. So, you have to purchase the OS.

john.goodman
john.goodman

As far as I know the Hyper-V "standalone" version is basically a cut down version of a Server Core installation with all roles other than Hyper-V stripped out, and of course Hyper-V active immediately. They kind of give this away by saying it will run on any 64 bit hardware that Supports Windows. This version is not scheduled to be released until sometime after the regular Hyper-V RTM version that will update Server 2008 to the release version of Hyper-V rather than the Beta version it shipped with, but I haven't seen a concrete ship date for it as yet.

chris.jackson
chris.jackson

"Microsoft Hyper-V (codename Viridian) is a hypervisor based server virtualization or hardware virtualization software for x64 (64-bit) versions of Windows Server 2008. Formerly known as Windows Server Virtualization, Hyper-V is also available in standalone low-footprint version, Hyper-V Server without Windows Server components" This is what I believed to be the case, is the low footprint version still just an extremely cut down 2008 Server (without GUI etc)?

john.goodman
john.goodman

Hyper-V Does require a Windows Host to Run, it cannot run as a stand alone product. VMWare ESX is based on a very light weight, customized Linux kernel. Hyper-V however is built in to Windows Server 2008 and therefore requires Windows 2008 to be installed on the machine first before the Hyper-V role is added in the same way the "File Server" role or the "DNS server" role is added, as an extra service on top of Windows server. This means that the whatever server you are running on, the resources necesary to run Windows server 2008 are always going to be lost before you ever start running virtual machines, unlike the comparatively lightweight linux that ESX is built on.

IT Generalist
IT Generalist

The biggest advantage that VMWare has is VMotion, DRS and HA capability that no other Hypervisor offers at this point and for that reason, VMWare sort of monoplizes the market and charges alot. Ones other vendors catch up with those capabilities, then the real battle will begin and VMWare market share will start to shrink. The reason I have stayed away from Virtualization is because I don't want to endup putting all eggs in one basket without having live migration and HA capablilities in case of a disaster and VMWware is the only vendor who offers that but for a licensing cost that is off the roof for an SMB like us to afford.

dagblakstad
dagblakstad

The VMWare Enteprise products should come with a ready-to-go *Enterprise* Linux virtual machine with support included. They should also consider providing more products for free make it even more tempting to choose VMWare over MS. They should also cooporate with major server vendors so servers can be sold with everything preinstalled. Another option is to Open Source some key technologies, so the proprietary word vanishes from the vocabulary of people arguing against VMWare.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

History shows us that Microsoft has been very successful at destroying companies surrounding their OS to preserve control of their monopoly. On the other hand, this could be their Waterloo. I would imagine they'll start with a poor and cheap product that will continue to improve and they'll create "special" and proprietary interfaces to drive VMWare away from IT decisionmakers. Once VMWare is out of the way, then they'll bloat their offering and charge ridiculous rates for Virtualization. The Waterloo comes with Linux. If VMWare comes out with a VERY cheap and good cross-OS virtualization offering package and goes to server manufacturers with a built-in delivery package, then you might see the end of MS OS dominance. If I was VMWare I'd be talking to Intel about open standards for cross OS virtualization and a very aggressive pricing for their offering with a plan to put it into silicon 2-3 years down the road. Once it's got standards and is in silicon, then Microsoft can't touch it and their offering will be added cost. This does mean that VMWare becomes less of a profit machine, but this is the cycle of technology. Suucess, then assimilation into the Intel borg instead of the MS borg

s31064
s31064

Linux is a good OS and it has it's uses and it's niche market, but it will not impact Microsoft's OS dominance. I would be willing to bet nothing in our lifetime will.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Last I heard, VMware is moving ESX too a minimal Linux kernel with VMware on top. It should fit in storage the size of a small flash drive. Your platter drives are then free to store VMs wrapper files or whatever else. It's a VM only server where all virtualized OS sit above the 50 meg platform. Microsoft is already taking a beating from other options in the server market. Don't mistake small consumer market share for an indication of enterprise level hardware.

Andy J. Moon
Andy J. Moon

Microsoft has a long, documented history of putting companies out of business once they enter a market. They are also not known for showing mercy or holding back on aggressive (sometimes illegal) strategies for driving competitors out. What does VMWare need to do to avoid being "Netscaped?"

stevenvantil
stevenvantil

VMWare has been having very strong numbers and I see it continuing. They have the best platform and are the leaders in virtualization as far as I am concerned. Recently with the release of vSphere 4.1 and their plans for the next release give me much confidence in them. I think if they keep being aggressive they will stay in the lead for quite some time. Private Clouds with VMWare and vSphere are going to be want companies want. Thanks, Steve Van Til http://onlinetech.com

merton
merton

As a small business we were quite fed up with all the servers we had to deploy, as everyone we bought server software from insisted it ran on a server of its own. This meant we had many servers with a very low work load. (So much for Microsoft?s ? ?do more with less? W2k3 launch). We Looked at both VMWare and MS and decided that for what we needed we would save a lot of money by just deploying MS Virtual server as we did not feel that we needed all the features of VMWare. We now have 20 Virtual Servers running on Hyper-V and they are happy. I think VMWare will lose a lot of business in our sector and they should worry as to implement Hyper-V is virtually free.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Out of curiousity, did you test VMware over a Unix host OS rather than a Windows host? Also, did you consider VMware server since the license cost is the same as the other?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'd strongly recommend going to vmware.com and downloading the Server version 1 Free or Server version 2 Free (one is a bit easier to learn coming from Windows). I'd also recommend grabbing Mandriva 2008.1 and a few other *nix liveCDs. You may be surprised at how nicely VMware works or how easy *nix can be to become familiar with. If the old guys won't teach you Unix, screw-em, learn that sucker yourself. I'm not sure how VMware breaks down for enterprise costs and SLA subscriptions. True though, for work you gotta stick with the platform you can support or learn the new one if the need justifies the change.

merton
merton

We are a small company which had 12+ Windows servers, and I have no Unix background, As my seniors would not train me to support Unix, it was easier to stay with the windows platform. When I was Quoted for VMWare there always seemed to be a 4k additional overhead, so I cannot see if VMWare is installed as a Host system, where I get my free Windows Server Licenses from.

jim.grosso
jim.grosso

The main reason VMWare should take notice is Hyper-V is "Microsoft". I have tested it and it will give VMWare a run for it's money plus it works great with other Microsoft products. That's an advantage since like everybody uses Microsoft.

michael.obrien
michael.obrien

When the price of your Enterprise product runs $30k+ (VMWare) and Microsoft is all but giving away their VM products, I would be very concerned. Having just loaded up MS version of VM, it's not nearly a feature rich as others but it works fairly well and is at the right price in these budget poor times. We had budgeted for VMware but budget cuts are focing that decision to be re-evaluated for the less expensive product(s).

Hogsbreath
Hogsbreath

I just attended VMware Forum in Atlanta last week. As a rebuttal to Microsoft's Hyper-V being free, VMware is now a free download. Also their hypervisor (light) is now coming in the Intel chipsets as a way to virtualize from powerup of the server. No OS to load, and it is FREE. A good move on their part. I think that VMware will be around for a long time. Most mid-size to large companies are choosing VMware for their virtualization platform. Of course Microsoft and Citrix will grab some of the new comers to virtualization especialy SMBs. Virtual desktops (VDI) is the new market to be captured. If VMware is smart they will price competitively with Citrix and Microsoft and improve the technology for VDI deployment in the enterprise.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Citrix seems to be the favorite around these parts though I love VMware for my own needs.

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