VMware vs. Microsoft: Ferocious pricing war from the user perspective

This week, users chimed in on the VMware vs. Microsoft pricing and licensing war and critics questioned VMware’s Hadoop-on-vSphere strategy.

This week, users and experts had plenty to say about the aggressive pricing war between VMware and Microsoft. VMware itself made headlines by announcing support for Hadoop on vSphere, although critics have high-availability concerns. Similarly, the vendor’s newly released security patches have been met by apprehension from IT pros.

Here’s your chance to catch up on happenings in the world of virtualization.

“Now is the time to negotiate with Microsoft…Once Hyper-V 3 comes out, your negotiating power with [Microsoft] is going to be diminished.”
David Kinsman, national technical solutions architect for World Wide Technology Inc.

Microsoft and VMware are starting to sound like used car salesmen: Each one attempting to best the other by offering incentives to sweeten the deal for users. Both vendors offer publicly available list prices, but IT pros and channel partners advise customers not to take them as gospel truth, because actual price negotiations render list prices moot. As with all salesmen, virtualization users have a certain amount of power to haggle with the vendors. But be warned: The release of Hyper-V 3.0 might give Microsoft a little extra swagger, making it less inclined to barter.

“Do we ever hear of a customer saying we’re going to just rip out one hypervisor product and put another one in? No. It just doesn’t happen.”
Chris Wolf, research vice president at Gartner Inc., based in Stamford, Conn.

Switching hypervisors is a tricky endeavor. Many factors go into the equation including operational, migration and training costs, just to name a few.  Because of that, many organizations have to slowly transition off a virtual platform. It’s not something that can be done overnight.

“The licensing would be least of my worries…The operational costs of switching everything are indescribable.”
Maish Saidel-Keesing, a virtualization administrator for an Israeli technology company

The impending release of Windows Server 2012 has only heightened the Microsoft-VMware debate. New features, price and licensing comparisons abound, all intended to convince users to make the switch. The hype has a narrow focus, however, and doesn’t take into account the staggering labor and operational costs incurred by organizations replacing VMware with Hyper-V.  

“VMware's approach to highly available Hadoop is misguided."
Shlomo Swidler, CEO of Orchestratus Inc., a cloud computing consultancy in West Hempstead, N.Y.

Many IT shops want to host applications that process large amounts of data in the cloud. The trend may provide a significant virtualization opportunity, but it also presents reliability concerns. Not surprisingly, VMware wants to capitalize on both with the open source project dubbed Serengeti from its Apache Software Foundation.

Serengeti allows enterprises to deploy and manage Apache Hadoop on vSphere 5.0 in both cloud and virtual environments, which could remove reliability issues, when coupled with high-availability technologies. But the vendor may be going about Hadoop high availability the wrong way. Today’s high-availability strategies for modern application are more often software-level, not infrastructure-level implementations.

This announcement comes on the heels of an initiative by VMware to support Cloud Foundry on OpenStack cloud environments. Is open source support becoming a trend for a notoriously exclusive vendor?

“With VMware, you always have to be slightly more nervous about applying patches as you can potentially affect all the VMs running inside the ESXi host.”
Craig Kilborn, technical consultant at Mirus IT Solutions Ltd.

Avoiding potential threats to a virtual infrastructure means putting your environment at risk of a data restore. If this sounds counter-intuitive to you, you’re not alone. Few VMware pros install patches immediately out of fear their apps will lose functionality. And their concerns are not without merit. But with its latest round of patches, partly in response to its recent source code leak, VMware is essentially telling customers it’s a risk worth taking.

Dig deeper on Virtualization security and patch management

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