James O'Neill's Blog

September 26, 2007

The truth will out…

Filed under: Virtualization,Windows Server,Windows Server 2008 — jamesone111 @ 12:19 am

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.

This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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