The truth will out…

Years ago, during the Browser wars I got a quote from a friend of mine (I'll call him "David", because his parents did).

"There are two companies in this Market. One delivers less, but has a huge market share, and takes it's customers for granted. And the other one's Microsoft".

Steve and I have been talking about Virtualization on the Road, and this week we've been to Newcastle before spending 27th September in Falkirk: we've been building Virtual-Server 2005-R2, with Clustering (using iSCSI) and System Center Virtual Machine Manager; and we've been showing "Viridian" aka Windows Server Virtualization from Windows Server 2008. At last week's events I mentioned  some information which came out at the VMWorld show earlier this month. Microsoft is number 2 to VMWare in this market; but with about 5% of companies are running production workloads virtualized, the market is still in its infancy.

Now it's fair to say that Steve and I aren't experts on VMWare and so we try to stay out of detailed discussions about how their implementation of a given feature compares with ours. I'm much happier when customers get the facts about our product from us, and the about competitor's product from them, and make their own minds up. Talking about your competitors' products is always fraught with problems because if you say anything positive you're endorsing them which can look bad, and negative comments can look like you're rubbishing them - which looks worse. Having said that VMWare do pass comment on  Microsoft - I don't know if they feel the same nervousness, because they get their facts wrong and sometimes it seems they do so on purpose. I've already quoted Jeff Woolsey talking about the document "Licensing Microsoft Windows Server 2003 R2 to Run with Virtualization Technologies." he says

"I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of a certain company (rhymes with ZMWare) complaining that we license Windows differently for Virtual Server and third party virtualization. That’s simply not true and this document spells out the licensing most clearly.

He also said he keeps meeting people who have been told that "Microsoft can't migrate virtual machines" by a competitor (un-named - but if you take Microsoft out of the equation VMWare outnumbers everyone else put together by more than 10:1). So we've been either demonstrating or explaining

  • Migrating Physical Machines to Virtual Machines  
  • Migrating Virtual Machines between Virtualization software (just copy the VHD, between Virtual PC, Virtual Server, Windows Server 2008's virtualization, Xen,the Microsoft iSCSI target)
  • Migrating VMs between servers under the control of System Center Virtual Machine Manager
  • Migrating VMs from a server to an SC-VMM library where they can be deployed to other servers
  • Migrating VMWare virtual hard-disks to the VHD used by Virtual PC, Virtual Server, Windows Server 2008's Virtualization, Xen,the Microsoft iSCSI target
  • "Quick Migration" using Windows Server Clustering for Fault-Tolerance - if the VM stops running the cluster service brings it up another node.

Our experience on the Road and the experience of people on the Microsoft stand at VM world has been that Virtual Machine Manager has been well received.  It's not surprising. It's a great product in it's own right, it ratchets up what's practical with Virtualization (early next year an "R2" release will manage VMWare and Xen as well as Server 2008's native Virtualization), and it has great integration with the rest of the system center family. I've already linked to Chris Stirrat's post where we made some key announcements about pricing of SCVMM. Including the workgroup edition which will be priced at $499 US  which can "manage up to five physical host servers and an unlimited number of virtual machines.  The only restriction in the software is the number of physical hosts you can manage (5) but everything else is full functionality."

Well VMWare have recently announced a "Special offer" on their Management product, and the free version of their Virtualization product - if you want features like clustering large memory support (read ability to run lots of VMs on one box) you need one of the pricey (upto $ 5,000) versions


  Microsoft VMWare;
Failover clustering / Quick migration Yes, $0 (leverages Windows Server) No
SAN Integration NPIV support in SCVMM No
SMP VMS In WSV 2008, not in VS2005 No
Servers managed 5 (with upgrade path) 3 (no upgrade path)
Max Server RAM 256 GB (leverages Windows Server) 8 GB Cap
Part of broader management suite? Yes (System Center) No.
Price $499 $3630 (inc mandatory support contract)

 With that sort of pricing Windows virtualization looks very cost effective. Reminds me of David's quote.

Comments (7)
  1. Anonymous says:

    We have been covering this at the TechNet on the Road events the last couple of weeks and there has been

  2. Anonymous says:

    Windows server 2008 RC 0 is out! Regular readers may have noticed the link in last night’s post . Once

  3. James ONeill says:

    @ James. No, Have a look at the VMware page I linked to, they’re charging $3630 for the management software to manage the free virtuaization sofware.

    @ VMware fan, um, ditto. VMware don’t have SMP or quick migration clustering IN THE OFFERING I AM TALKING ABOUT. They do have it in other products ,  as a chargeable extra. And VMotion does offer "Live" migration with downtime so short the client won’t notice, compared with "Quick Migration" which clients may well notice. For customers who need "live" – and I was speaking to one yesterday, VMware is the only game in town (and priced to match.

    @ Bob. Ditto. I was commenting on the thing VMWare have just announced. By the way  I have moderation turned on because I get so many bots posting adverts for Gay Porn that I filter that out. Debate is interesting, I won’t block a poster for having a different view. Actually when they write like 14 year olds, I’ll always approve them. I’d love the world to think that you’re typical of VMware advocates. Sadly, many of the VMware customers I meet are grown up, capable of reading and hold down responsible jobs.

    @ Anonymous. It is from where I’m standing 🙂

  4. james says:

    The column for VMWare is wrong: the price is $0 (this is the free server you’re comparing in this column). Also its VMware, not VMWare.

  5. A VMware Fan says:

    Your article is awesome.  I love the way that you start off saying that you like to leave description of competitors products to the competition.  Then you include break down of "VMWare" (whatever product that is, I’m not sure).

    Good thing you pointed out earlier how little you know about VMware’s products.  At least that explains your why you think VMware’s "lack" of QuickMigration is a problem.  Hint: they have a much better technology (VMotion).  Also, "VMWare" has no support for SMP VMs?  Check again.  8G max server RAM?  Clearly documented as wrong.  Part of a broader suite?  It’s called VI3.

    Stick with what you know.  ’cause you clearly don’t know half of the superior product.

    Nice article.

  6. BobTheBot says:

    Wow you guys seem to be comparing VMware Server instead of ESX server the product you are actually competing against. And even that info you provided is grossly inaccurate. Anyone using ESX and VMware server knows that. You and Steve certainly do not know the market you are competing in. Man as a company you are lame. You play that rhetorical marketing crap in your blog instead of focusing on building a better product. VMware dominates the market and you don’t in virtualization because they build STABLE and on time products. They don’t tout SHIPPING as a feature like you did in a previous blog.

    I used to use your products on servers. Your so called tax and inferior support structure got my managers looking at alternatives now. Server 2008 is in RC status and it feels more like an early beta. Until you get the message and actually focus on solid development practices and not lame ass marketing tactics and flashy graphics (AKA spreading FUD and false facts as you are doing now) designed ONLY to increase market share, you will continue to see your market share fall as it has been slowly.

    I challenge you to post my comment into this blog since I know this is moderated blog…I can tell seeing as how only 1 comment made it on. Clearly people are finding this FUD idiotic. If you don’t I will simply screenie this and post it all over the web for the world to see. 😀 Should keep you from tooting your horn about things you admitted you know little about. You admitted not knowing their product so HOW THE HELL DO YOU INNOVATE if you do not know what your competitor is doing?! You can call this the end user version of the "Spread the facts campaign"

  7. Anonymous says:

    You didn’t mention that Microsoft virtualization software only runs on Windows machines.

    Oh… that’s not an advantage…

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