Has VMware Won the Server Virtualization War?

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jun 16, 2010


Last week was TechEd, Microsoft's big developer show. There was lots of the usual Redmond rah-rah. There were also lots of announcements around Windows Server 2008 and Windows, and Azure. But if you were looking forward to news about Hyper-V, you most likely were disappointed. Microsoft did reveal, however that Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 (due out in final release in fourth quarter 2010) will include, "a new addition to Hyper-V that will dynamically adjust memory of a guest virtual machine on demand."

Virtually Speaking: It's accolades all around for VMware, even from Microsoft users.

Ironically, considering how VMware treated the competition at last year's VMworld, VMware (NASDAQ:VMW) not only had a booth at the show, but also, ChannelWeb reports, its vSphere 4 won the Best of TechEd award in the virtualization category as well as the attendee's pick award for highest-rated product by TechEd attendees across all categories.

Ed Note: The best of TechEd awards were open only to Microsoft partners, and therefore Microsoft was unable to participate.

Despite the ramped up onslaught of competition, VMware thus far has been holding its own. Last week, a Gartner report positioned it in the Leaders' quadrant of its Magic Quadrant matrix for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure. Its stock price closed at a 52-week high on Tuesday, and press releases about new customers are released daily.

Has VMware won the battle for the virtualization market place? It's not game over yet, but it's not looking so great for Microsoft. The competition is strong for the virtual server and desktop, and being the server and OS desktop of choice isn't enough for it to win over users. What this means in the long term, as the importance of the OS wanes, is unclear. Microsoft's future position in the cloud is also unclear, as Azure hasn't yet picked up the traction it had anticipated.

Last week, I pondered the possibility of VMware's relationship with Novell turning into something more. Hitching its hypervisor to an OS would not be a bad move, especially given that it wants vSphere to be viewed as an OS.

The OS of choice is not, however, essential to the product. Remember, VMware is not dependent on the OS to function. This has made it possible for it to remain compatible across the spectrum of x86 options. It has also made it possible for it to compete with Hyper-V.

Hyper-V, in contrast, is limited to servers running Windows Server 2008. Most data centers are heterogeneous when it comes to OSes; for Hyper-V to succeed, they will also need to be heterogeneous in their hypervisor usage. If Tech Ed is any indication, that may not turn out to be the case.

Amy Newman is the senior managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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