I assumed that when Microsoft released its Hyper-V server virtualization platform that VMware ESX would face serious competition. I thought that the competition between these two x86 hypervisor tools would almost immediately generate a need for cross-platform management tools.
Based on my conversation with several eWEEK Corporate Partners--our enterprise IT advisory experts--it turns out that VMware projects remain, for the most part, unchallenged by Microsoft. Further, there was almost no immediate interest in cross-platform management products. I'll admit that this was surprising to me. I've had my ear filled with pitches from vendors of cross-platform tools.
It's almost certain that this will change in the coming year. For one thing, Microsoft has a proven track record of successful market entry. For another, the economic turmoil that is happening now and that will increase in 2009 will result in hectic company consolidations as struggling organizations are swallowed up by more successful ones. Just one small consequence of this company-eat-company dynamic will be that ESX implementations will be mixed with Hyper-V.
Microsoft is getting ready for the mix. As I noted in my Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 walk-through, integration with VMware's VirtualCenter management console is feature No. 1 in Microsoft's new release. I've been covering Microsoft management tools for over a decade. Until now, Microsoft hasn't managed other companies' products. In fact, in the management arena, Microsoft has barely acknowledged the existence of other management products. That's all changed with SC VMM 2008. Microsoft wants to manage ESX.
I think IT managers should put the cross-platform tools on their strategic radar watch. I'm in the midst of reviewing one such offering. This product (I'll tell you more about it in the forthcoming review--I don't want to tip my hat just yet because this is from a little company that I found at VMworld and I want you to get the full scoop from me) replaces the VMware Infrastructure Client and also enables management of Hyper-V and open-source hypervisors.
If Microsoft succeeds in challenging VMware, a wave of third-party management tools will emerge. It's critical to look at these tools now, because they are the next step in keeping IT on the path to stardom in the virtualization world. Server consolidation will become a standard practice. How IT administrators manage this dynamic data center environment will be the test by which careers are made or broken in the challenging years ahead.