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Cost comparisons push Microsoft Hyper-V growth

Now that Microsoft Hyper-V sports Dynamic Memory and Live Migration, cost comparison with VMware’s ESX has gotten even more compelling.

ATLANTA -- Microsoft Hyper-V is catching up with VMware vSphere on features, but it’s cost that is prompting IT managers to take a second look at the virtualization technology, said TechEd conference attendees.

Scott Ladewig, a network and operations manager of information services at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, said he began with a three-node VMware ESX cluster, using a Foundation license for Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3). But when it came time to expand the cluster, Ladewig said the price of expansion was just too high.

“When we reached the maximum on our foundation license, going up to the next level was going to cost thousands,” Ladewig said.

VMware was willing to offer discounts, but only if the school committed to a substantial purchase. “I was saying, ‘I need a better price to buy more; you can’t ask me to pay more to get a better price,’” Ladewig said.

After last year’s TechEd, Ladewig began investigating Hyper-V as an alternative for some workloads. Today he has a four-node Hyper-V environment on which he as virtualized Exchange and virtual desktops using Remote Desktop Services. Workloads including Linux guest machines, test and development, SQL Server, SharePoint and legacy applications remain on VMware.

Ladewig said there may always be some ESX in his shop, but new deployments will probably go on Hyper-V.

Live migration, dynamic memory problems no more
Historically, cost wasn’t enough to displace VMware. Until Live Migration was added to Hyper-V last year, the void held back client deployment of Hyper-V, said Bruce Smith, a senior consultant at Data #3 in Brisbane, Australia. The Dynamic Memory feature, which was added in Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 in March, was also on their wish list, Smith said.

“For some customers, that was one of the features they liked about VMware, and it was a sticking point,” Smith said. VMware still offers more bells and whistles, such as Distributed Resource Scheduler, but for most shops that deploy Hyper-V, live migration and dynamic memory are the most essential features, Smith said.

Upcoming features in System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012 will bolster Hyper-V’s competitiveness relative to VMware further, said Nathan Lasnoski, a Microsoft MVP who does field deployments of Hyper-V for clients.

“What I’m seeing is people who are currently using VMware re-evaluating what’s coming in the cloud [from Microsoft],” Lasnoski said.

Bare-metal provisioning and integration with System Center Orchestrator (formerly Opalis) are the two features clients are looking forward to most with SCVMM 2012, Lasnoski said. “In my consulting, even companies [that] have VMware have the opportunity to take a second look at Hyper-V from a cloud and VDI standpoint.”

Virtual servers will outpace physical in 2012
During a keynote presentation at TechEd on Monday, Robert Wahbe, corporate VP in the server and tools business unit for Microsoft, reported on Microsoft’s virtualization growth in the last year, based on IDC market research. According to Wahbe’s presentation, last year, Microsoft shipped more virtual server instances, at 10.7 million, than physical, at 7.8 million. The overall install base is expected to cross that line next year, Wahbe said, and this year is nearly even, at 28.2 million physical instances in the field versus 27.6 million virtual servers.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for Write to her at

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