Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ESX getting competion from Hyper-V?

Recently I attended an information sharing afternoon organized by two of the big names in the IT industry who like to maintain excellent relationships with Microsoft. One was a computer manufacturer and the second makes chips. Guess who. But that is not the reason for this weeks column.

The speakers were all technical: consultants, CTO. The marketing folks stayed home and the sales people didn't show up as this was about a beta product which can not be sold yet. Expected shipping date is apparently august 2008.

So what did we learn? That Microsoft is finally realizing that their previous strategy on virtualization is in the trashcan and that their previous products that had virtual in their name didn't cut it. Going the route using a hypervisor has finally arrived in Redmond. I think a bit too late. One of the speakers (an independent consultant who used to work for Microsoft and is a MVP) believes that with the Microsoft name (and therefor re$ources) it will get a big push and catch on.

Bob Muglia (SVP @ MSFT) stated in a company announcement that the adoption rate of virtualization so far is limited due to "simply too cost-prohibitive and complex".

Well, I partially disagree. Yes, today nothing in IT infrastructures is easy as a walk in the park. As you shouldn't ask a cabin attendant to take over the pilot's job, you shouldn't expect the "setup.exe - next - next - finish" generation to create "Dynamic IT provisioning Datacenters" either. Virtualizing a server park using VMware ESX isn't cost-prohibitive. Those who think it is, should redo their math. The main reason why many IT organizations haven't virtualized their production servers is that Microsoft support is a pain when it comes to supporting those environments. And when something goes bad, the IT department doesn't want to be reminded they were running an unsupported setup.

When you try to follow the discussions on the internet forums (e.g. Ars Techica) you will find yourself pretty quickly lost if you don't know both products very well. And to me they seem more like flame wars.

Back to the subject. Yes, VMware will feel some heat from Microsoft in the near future. The first release of Hyper-V is running years behind the capabilities of ESX. And let's not forget the extensive testing of all the hardware is still long way to go. So if you need to standardise on virtualization technology (which I think you should) the safe bet will still be ESX for a while. I was disappointed with what I saw and heard from the experts. An "all Microsoft" shop will have to wait longer before they can start virtualizing, because the first release of Hyper-V will not be enough compelling to make the switch to virtualization. And let there be no mistake about it: virtualization has so many benefits that it will dwarf most costs to get there.

© Peter Bodifée 2008. All rights reserved

No comments: