Microsoft did something that it rarely does last week when it announced availability of its Hyper-V server virtualization technology months ahead of schedule. Unlike Microsoft Virtual Server, which ran as an application, Hyper-V is a true hypervisor capable of hosting multiple instances of Windows and even Suse Linux.
OK, so Microsoft is in the game, but can it compete with server virtualization king VMware? Yup. According to ESG Research, 69 percent of organizations planning to adopt server virtualization are considering Microsoft technology, 59 percent are considering VMware, 10 percent are contemplating XenSource, and 4 percent are kicking the server virtualization tires with Virtual Iron.
Microsoft understands that server virtualization is a strategic IT initiative that has the potential to really disrupt the server-licensing landscape. In other words, server virtualization could take a bite out of Windows sales, if VMware wins in a landslide. Microsoft just won't let that happen.
As Hyper-V gains visibility, my colleague Mark Bowker expects Microsoft to:
- Throw money and programs at its OEMs
Microsoft will use its vast resources to run joint-marketing programs, educate customers, and generate leads with server vendors such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. The goal? Maximize visibility of Hyper-V in a hurry.
- Use management as a Hyper-V complement
Microsoft is currently in beta with its System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), a management platform that controls Hyper-V and VMware ESX. As this becomes available, Microsoft can play a low-cost management card to introduce its hypervisor into VMware accounts.
- Target the midmarket
VMware is surprisingly strong in the SMB space, along with feisty Virtual Iron. Nevertheless, Microsoft has an army of channel partners and Windows consultants, who should be able to quickly penetrate this Windows-centric market segment.
VMware is way too ubiquitous and strong to be "Netscaped," but Microsoft will certainly make the server virtualization space more competitive--in a hurry.Jon Oltsik is a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.