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Paul Maritz talks Microsoft, Oracle

Paul Maritz knows VMware has a target on its back.

The VMware CEO was the latest guest on Fortune’s “Connected with Adam Lashinsky,” where he talked about VMware’s standing in the overall IT market. I recently wrote that Hyper-V vs. VMware isn’t much of a fight these days (and Oracle vs. VMware is even less so), but Maritz made it clear that he takes the threat from both software giants seriously.

“They have unequivocally said that they want to remove the need for any VMware software in your data center,” he said.

Although Maritz vowed to fight off these challenges, he took a pragmatic stance when comparing VMware’s vision of a data center operating system to Microsoft’s success with desktop OSes.

“I don’t think we’ll ever have the degree of control that Microsoft did over the PC market,” he said.

One thing I took issue with was Maritz’s description of Microsoft’s fight against VMware.

“Microsoft decided to start competing with VMware as early as 2002, 2003 and have been working hard ever since, that’s seven or eight years now, and are still not at the same level of capability that VMware is,” he said.

That may be technically true, but Microsoft didn’t really put its weight behind server virtualization until it released Hyper-V in 2008. It’s not completely fair to frame it as a seven- or eight-year battle. And when you look at just the hypervisor, Microsoft has made a lot of strides in just two years.

When Hyper-V first came out, the big outcry was, “It doesn’t have live migration!” Live Migration came in Hyper-V R2, and then the critics said, “But there’s no memory overcommit!” Microsoft will answer that next year with Dynamic Memory in Hyper-V R2 Service Pack 1. And after that, I haven’t really heard any “It still won’t have X, Y, Z!” complaints.

Granted, Microsoft hasn’t taken advantage of this feature parity yet (except maybe in Europe). VMware had a big head start, captured a lot of the market and developed a strong management portfolio around its hypervisor, both in-house and through third-parties. Those are obstacles the folks in Redmond must still overcome if they want to make their threat to VMware a serious one.

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