Microsoft, Citrix and VMware: How the three virtualisation offerings stack up

Microsoft, Citrix and VMware: How the three virtualisation offerings stack up

We discover if you're going to get the same experience regardless of the vendor you go with, or is there a genuine differentiating factor between each?


VMware’s vice president, Australia and New Zealand, Paul Harapin, is very quick to point out that price is not something the vendor considers important, or for that matter virtualising servers.

“I think what you see from other people who are trying to place in this space is ‘hey, we can virtualise a server.’ To be honest, I haven’t talked about customers virtualising servers for three years,” Harapin said.

“The other discussion from the others tends to be ‘hey, we can virtualise this server cheaper than VMware'. Well, to be honest, that’s not the discussion point of any of my customers and the result of our business, last quarter, growing 71 per cent quarter-on-quarter, I think testifies that customers see massive value in what VMware is bringing to their business. It’s not just about saving money on servers.”

VMware is in a privileged position in being the first prominent vendor to the space, and the recent turn out of some 17,000 people to its

VMworld conference suggest that it still has a great deal of momentum behind it.

The vendor has steadily groomed a stable of partnerships to help it to create broader, more integrated market offerings too. Vendor partners of

VMware include HP, IBM, Intel, Cisco, EMC, NetApp, Trend Micro, Symantec and SAP.

Harapin is keen to point out that the vendor has a clear vision of a journey it is taking its customers on – and the long-term view to virtualisation and cloud computing is one of VMware’s most compelling market propositions.

“It’s covering three levels now – basic server virtualisation really is just a small percentage of the story here. It’s this new stack for hybrid cloud computing that we’ve brought to market and are working on that enables IT as a service. I think it’s an unmatched vision from anyone in IT today,” Harapin said.


Microsoft, like Citrix, sees a commoditisation effect happening in the virtualisation space that is making price an issue. However, the vendor’s primary concern is, with little difference in the virtualisation technologies themselves, it’s how customers manage the environment that is the true battlefield.

“The key differentiator in the way we look at management in a virtualised environment is that we don’t differentiate or use different tools to manage a virtual environment compared to a physical environment,” Microsoft Australia server and virtualisation product manager, Rosemary Stark, said.

“The way we look at the virtual environment is that it should really be an extension of the physical environment. You shouldn’t have to have separate policies and separate tools that you try and integrate back into your physical environment.”

With Microsoft’s current energy behind cloud computing and the famous ‘if you’re not with us in the journey to the cloud, we’re probably not the vendor for you’ quote Steve Ballmer made at the global partner conference this year, Microsoft needs to get the stepping stones to the cloud – virtualistion – right.

“Customers don’t really care so much about the operating system,” Stark said. “The value to the business is in that operating system being up and running and forming and supporting the application. You need to know the application stack is working well.

“The ability to back it up effectively, as well as decommission and upgrade – that whole cycle of being able to do all of those things, that’s really what Microsoft has at the core.

So for Microsoft, it’s a pragmatic approach of giving the people what they want in a manner that is easy and familiar for them to look after. And, according to Stark, it’s working.

“A number of our partners are starting to recommend the Microsoft virtualisation capabilities and lead with them,” she said. “We have conversations with them around building a virtualisation practice, as opposed to a VMware practice or a Microsoft virtualisation practice. We believe the best outcome for a partner is to have a balanced view where they can offer a balanced view and a solution that makes sense for their customer.”

As you can see, the three virtualisation amigos do all have their own unique approach on the market, and this gives partners, such as Applaud, plenty of leverage space in what continues to prove to be a lucrative and dynamic sector of the industry.

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