VMware Retorts to Microsoft Hyper-V Advent

VMware says its ESX Server is a comparable, but better product than Microsoft's Hyper-V.

No sooner had Microsoft announced the availability of the public beta for Hyper-V, its hypervisor-based server virtualization technology, than VMware went on the attack, claiming its ESX Server is a comparable, but better, product.

"Hyper-V is Microsoft's hypervisor, while ESX Server is ours. But I don't think you can really compare Microsoft's newly announced beta offering and our product, which has been available for seven years," Bogomil Balkansky, VMware's senior director of product marketing, told eWEEK.

"Customers want stability, maturity, robustness and resilience from their virtualization products, and we have the benefit of having it proven in production all around the world, with customers running mission-critical applications on ESX Server," Balkansky said.

In contrast, seven years after VMware brought its offering to market, Microsoft announced the public beta of its first-generation hypervisor product, he said, adding that customers want more than just a hypervisor, which is the piece of software that partitions a server into multiple virtual machines.

Microsoft released the public beta for Hyper-V on Dec. 13, well ahead of schedule, and said it remains on track to ship within 180 days of the release to manufacturing of Windows Server 2008, which will be released to manufacturing before its Feb. 27, 2008, launch event.


Read more here about the release of the public beta for Hyper-V.

Customers also want the capabilities that were delivered on top of the hypervisor, capabilities that Microsoft's offering lacks, Balkansky said, which include the automated restart of machines, the automated load balancing of virtual machines across a pool of physical servers and the live migration of virtual machines from one physical server to another, a capability that is currently being used by more than 60 percent of VMware customers.

"These are the kinds of capabilities that honestly create the net, new opportunities for customers to optimize their environment leveraging the power of virtualization, and these are the kinds of capabilities that allow customer environments to become more highly available, more resilient and simpler to manage," he said.

But, while Mike Neil, Microsoft's general manager of virtualization strategy, declined to comment on the specific points made by Balkansky, he told eWEEK that the software maker is glad its Hyper-V product has clearly grabbed VMware's attention.

"Hyper-V is an exciting and ubiquitous technology that all customers can take advantage of. That's why it's an important part of the operating system. With this beta, Hyper-V is ready for broad customer evaluation," he said.


VMware is preparing several updates to its Virtual Infrastructure 3 suite. Click here to read more.

Balkansky countered that, while Microsoft was working on Hyper-V, VMware was innovating and extending its lead in the virtualization space.

Its next-generation hypervisor architecture, known as ESX Server 3i, is a hardware-integrated hypervisor built on a next-generation thin architecture and does not incorporate or rely on a general-purpose operating system, thereby eliminating many common reliability issues and security vulnerabilities, he said.

This new server technology also brings a dramatically reduced footprint, down to 32MB, a fraction of the size of a general-purpose operating system, which results in a smaller attack surface while minimizing the effort required for tasks such as security hardening, user access control, anti-virus and backup.


In addition, the hypervisor can now be embedded in server systems, with all of the major server vendors already committed to embedding ESX Server 3i in different server lines, he said. "We expect to see the first of these servers to start rolling off the production line in early 2008—long before Windows Server 2008 or Hyper-V are even released," Balkansky said.

In addition, the new server product supports those operating systems running on x86 hardware, including Windows, Linux and Solaris. "Our ESX Server hypervisor product is proven to run Windows operating systems very well, and we have a seven-year track record of this," he said.


There are eight different versions of Windows Server 2008. Read about them here.

But, like Microsoft, which will also release the Hyper-V server, a stand-alone product that allows customers to virtualize workloads onto a single physical server at a retail price of $28, those users who want to buy ESX Server 3i as a stand-alone product will be able to do so at a cost of $495 per two CPUs.

VMware will continue to support its existing ESX Server 3.5, which was made generally available earlier this week, and which will exist concurrently with the ESX Server 3i for a period of time.

People virtualize their environments to achieve specific goals, which include decreasing the overall cost of their infrastructure and making that simpler to manage, more available and resilient. "We deliver all of these capabilities, and for now, and some time to come, VMware is the safe place to run Windows operating systems," Balkansky said.


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