Virtualization news: Top 10 stories of 2009

VMware, Microsoft and Citrix all released new server virtualization products in 2009. Find out which became the biggest virtualization news story of the year.

Virtualization news came fast and furious in 2009.

VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems all released new server virtualization products, dramatically altering the market. As the technology grew in popularity, other vendors looked to get in on the action by making their own virtualization news. And naturally, the influx of all these new server virtualization products and vendors led to some controversies and challenges.

As 2009 comes to a close, let's count down these top 10 virtualization news stories of the year.

10. Microsoft virtualization licensing challenges

As virtualization's popularity grew in 2009, more organizations looked to virtualize more of the applications in their data centers. Unfortunately, that wasn't always feasible, thanks to Microsoft software licensing policies.

Microsoft did make some virtualization-friendly licensing changes this year, but some policies still tied software to physical servers -- restricting live migration, one of the biggest benefits of virtualization. Some of Microsoft's licensing policies also made it more expensive to run applications on virtual machines instead of physical servers.

9. Citrix open sources XenServer

Not to be outdone by the new server virtualization products from VMware and Microsoft, Citrix Systems updated its own platform in 2009. XenServer 5.5, released in May, added role-based control via Active Directory integration and several other new features.

But the bigger virtualization news came in October, when Citrix said it would make XenServer open source. CTO Simon Crosby said the move would help Citrix increase market share and revenue from its management software. Some critics said Citrix was starting to give up on XenServer, but users of XenServer and other Xen hypervisors still had plenty of good things to say about the technology this year.

8. ISV partners slam VMware

As VMware expanded into more segments of the server virtualization market in 2009, the company rubbed some of its independent software vendors (ISVs) the wrong way.

In June, we reported that VMware told Veeam Software to cut free ESXi hypervisor support from its Veeam Backup and Replication 3.1 product. Veeam executives said VMware honchos didn't want to see other companies making money off their free product; Veeam CEO Ratmir Timashev even said that VMware's Parag Patel acted arrogantly and took it personally when Veeam questioned VMware's decision.

At VMworld in September, other ISV partners raised issues about accessibility to VMware's APIs and the company's overall ESXi strategy.

7. Microsoft vs. VMware feud turns nasty

Microsoft and VMware took their competitive marketing to new heights (or depths, depending on how you want to look at it) in 2009.

Microsoft kicked things off in April with its "Microsoft Mythbusters: Top 10 VMware Myths" video, which had a smug tone that turned off many viewers -- opponents and customers alike. VMware and its supporters fired back; one blogger even posted a still photo of the video, featuring Microsoft's Edwin Yuen and David Greschler, and added this caption: "Would you buy a hypervisor from these guys?"

But there was plenty of embarrassment to go around. In June, VMware's Scott Drummonds anonymously posted a video on YouTube that showed Hyper-V crashing while running VMware's VMmark platform. The video didn't mention that Hyper-V crashed because it was running unsupported VMmark configurations, and that drew some scathing responses from Microsoft. Drummonds eventually had to apologize.

6. vSphere licensing controversies

VMware's vSphere release was met with much enthusiasm, but it did not go off without a hitch. VMware added a new top-level license, called Enterprise Plus, and in June announced plans to stop selling Enterprise licenses -- basically, forcing all Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3) Enterprise customers to upgrade to the new, more expensive edition.

Not surprisingly, this vSphere licensing policy did not go over well with customers. In October, VMware reversed course and indefinitely extended the availability of vSphere 4 Enterprise Edition.

Find out where on the list Hyper-V R2 and vSphere 4 landed in the second part of our top virtualization news stories of 2009.

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