Microsoft Becomes the Alternative in Hostile VMware Territory

A small delegation from Seattle knocks VMware's view of the cloud world and talks up Azure as the better way to go.

SAN FRANCISCO-Microsoft as alternative. This is certainly not a typical notion, but in the context of VMworld 2010, it absolutely fit.

The world's largest application and operating system software maker is not nearly in as familiar waters when it comes to data center middleware, although it has a healthy and growing business in that sector.

As one might imagine, Microsoft-because of its competing Hyper-V virtualization layer, among other products-was not particularly welcome under the Moscone Center roof here while VMware was renting the place for VMworld.

That would explain why Microsoft representatives on Aug. 31 were literally pushed into the farthest corner away from everything and assigned to a tiny cubicle on the VMworld floor for a briefing with eWEEK.

VMware was definitely making a statement.

A small delegation from Seattle, including David Greschler, director of virtualization strategy, and Mike Neil, general manager of Windows Server and Server Virtualization, met with eWEEK.

On that day, Day 2 of the conference, Microsoft ran a full-page ad in USA Today to warn potential customers about possible VMware "lock-in" before signing up for the latter's virtualization services. My eWEEK colleague, Nick Kolakowski, discussed this in his Microsoft Watch blog.

This indeed is an interesting turn of events, with Microsoft-one of the world's most proprietary IT shops-warning others about vendor lock-in. Guffaws from members of the open-source software development community can be heard on just about every continent.

In case you missed that day's print copy of USA Today, here is the message Microsoft spent some $90,000 (according to current USA Today national run rates) to publish in the newspaper:

"Dear VMware customers,VMware is asking many of you to sign 3-year license agreements for your virtualization projects. But with the arrival of cloud computing, signing up for a 3-year virtualization commitment may lock you into a vendor that cannot provide you with the breadth of technology, flexibility or scale that you'll need to build a complete cloud computing environment.Microsoft believes cloud computing, which lets you store information and programs in data centers and access them from almost anywhere with the same ease as accessing a website, represents the biggest opportunity in decades for organizations to be more agile and cost-effective. Information Technology is evolving into a service accessible from almost anywhere, anytime, and any device. Virtualization clearly played a role in enabling this move toward IT services by simplifying the deployment and management of desktops and data centers, which is why we made virtualization part of Windows Server. However, virtualization represents only a stepping stone toward cloud computing.Imagine never having to set up a server, update an operating system or build a database system. That is the promise of cloud computing: the ability to access core services quickly and roll out legacy software and new applications at Internet scale without having to deal with today's deployment logistics, which exist even with a virtualized data center. In other words, if you liked the efficiencies and cost savings of virtualization, you'll love the cloud.At Microsoft, we already offer many of the brands you know, use and trust today as cloud computing services, including Microsoft Office, Exchange, SharePoint and SQL. In addition, our cloud computing platform, called Windows Azure, lets organizations migrate legacy applications and roll out new programs written in .NET, Java, Ruby-on-Rails, PHP and Eclipse across multiple data centers so they are accessible at scale from almost anywhere.If you're evaluating a new licensing agreement with VMware, talk to us first. You have nothing to lose and plenty to gain. Not only is Microsoft's server virtualization solution approximately one-third the cost of a comparable solution from VMware, but also a recent Microsoft study of 150 large companies showed those running Microsoft virtualization spent 24% less on IT labor on an ongoing basis (Learn more at Most importantly, as you build out the next generation of your IT environment, we can provide you with scalable worldwide public cloud computing services that VMware does not offer.Learn how Microsoft can help your business with desktop, data center and cloud computing. Call us or learn more at appreciate your business.Sincerely,Brad AndersonCorporate Vice President, Server & Tools BusinessMicrosoft Corporation"

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...