Microsoft vs. VMware: Rumble in the virtual world

Microsoft vs. VMware: Rumble in the virtual world

As Hyper-V marks Microsoft's entry into virtualization, market leader VMware must consider new strategies for survival against the software behemoth

VMware's best chance

While Microsoft busily develops catch-up features for Hyper-V, the server virtualization market is moving toward management of a virtualized environment. Virtual servers can quickly become a nightmare to control, which is why IT shops need such tools. "The end game is in management of the virtual infrastructure," says Burton Group's Wolf. "Hypervisors will eventually become a free commodity."

To this end, Microsoft will offer its System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, which only recently entered public beta. Kennedy says the management tool shows promise but has limitations, such as its inability to manage live migrations. Wolf, though, was impressed with a Microsoft demo that showed an operations manager quickly provisioning a new virtual machine to handle a problem.

Microsoft's System Center is also getting into other areas, says Wolf, and encroaching on established management tools such as Hewlett-Packard's OpenView for networks and systems management. VMware only manages virtual infrastructure, leaving management tools from Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and others to handle the rest.

In fact, VMware has spent years building strong reseller relationships with technology stalwarts. And it has been extremely successful taking joint solutions to the largest companies in the world. All of the Fortune 100 companies are VMware customers.

Perhaps this is VMware's greatest opportunity to thwart Microsoft's campaign for undermining and overtaking market leaders. At least, Wolf thinks so. He believes VMware should continue to integrate its products deeply with its partners' offerings and leverage their sales channels -- a kind of "unite and overcome" strategy. "VMware's best chance is not to go it alone," Wolf says.

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