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Microsoft talks tough, gains little on VMware

Microsoft's Hyper-V growth rate in units shipped outstripped VMware's vSphere as of the first quarter of 2012, according to IDC data. But do these numbers tell the whole story?

Microsoft has lured some VMware vSphere customers over to Hyper-V, and the company boasts server virtualization market share growth, but Microsoft still has a lot to prove before the tide turns in its favor.

Hyper-V accounted for 22.5% of virtualization software units shipped during the first calendar quarter of 2011, according to a Worldwide Quarterly Server Virtualization Software Tracker report by IDC Corp. In the first quarter of 2012, that number rose to 26.6%, the IDC reported.

Hyper-V is taking a little bit of the growth … but it doesn't mean that VMware is declining.

Gary Chen,
analyst, IDC

By comparison, VMware's server virtualization software units shipped accounted for 53.6% in Q1 2011 and 52.4% in Q1 2012.

Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner made hay with these figures in a keynote speech to a Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) audience Wednesday morning, according to bloggers who documented the presentation.

The company points to customers who have recently made a wholesale swap-out of VMware virtualization products in favor of Hyper-V, such as Pella Windows and Doors.

Pella Corp., which has done case studies with Microsoft in the past, chose VMware in 2004 because at that time it had superior virtualization software.

"From 2004 to 2008, we believed VMware was the better product -- more features, more effective, better scalability," said Jim Thomas, Pella's director of IT operations. Still, Microsoft remained one of the company's "key IT partners," and Thomas pledged to keep an open mind about Hyper-V.

When the features in Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V and the Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V roadmap matched up with VMware vSphere, Hyper-V was able to meet the 30:1 consolidation ratio that Pella needed.

Ultimately, it wasn't Hyper-V itself, but the new integration of the System Center suite that convinced Thomas to adopt Hyper-V. His administrators were already familiar with parts of the suite, including Configuration Manager and Operations Manager, and if Pella was going to move to a private and eventually hybrid cloud with Microsoft, it seemed wise to standardize on Hyper-V as well.

"VMware clearly sold us a good product," he added. "But we don't have the same relationship with VMware that we do with Microsoft."

No sea change for virtualization market share -- yet

Meanwhile, most enterprises stand up mixed-hypervisor environments rather than completely dropping one product for another.

One Fortune 300 company on the West Coast is conducting a proof of concept with Microsoft's Azure public cloud as well as with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) for non-production workloads.

"We have a very large investment in VMware, but we have a much larger partnership with Microsoft," said Christian Metz, systems administrator at a West Coast-based company. Thus, when it came to experimenting with things like the public private clouds for test and development, "Microsoft came in and offered a lot of cool stuff, a lot of consultant help, a lot of freebies, and VMware just didn't quite match that," Metz said.

Still, the company remains firmly based on VMware for production workloads, and Metz expects to keep VMware in production and Hyper-V in test and development, through at least 2015.

"It can be a huge effort to migrate 3,500 VMs," he said.

Furthermore, IDC analysts cautioned that the data doesn't indicate any kind of major swap-out of vSphere for Hyper-V in the market.

"Hyper-V is taking a little bit of the growth, a little bit of the share away from other platforms, but it doesn't mean that VMware is declining in terms of revenue or number of licenses shipped," said Gary Chen, research manager for enterprise virtualization software at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC.

If the virtualization market is a big pie, the size of the slices each vendor takes relative to one another continues to change, Chen explained.

But "the pie keeps getting bigger. [VMware] is not losing units, they're not experiencing negative growth … in an absolute view, both of those platforms are still growing," he said.

One fact remains without doubt: Microsoft has gotten more aggressive in its messaging around Hyper-V as it gears up for the launch of Windows Server 2012 in September. Also announced this week at WPC was a new "Switch to Hyper-V" program that trains channel partners to take out VMware installations in customer data centers.

"With Windows Server 2012, I think you'll see Hyper-V's numbers grow much faster," Chen said.

VMware did not comment as of press time.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for and Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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Will Microsoft continue to eat into VMware's market share?
Starting with Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V 3.0 there may be a shift back to Microsoft but we will have to see what VMware.Next brings us.
Hyper-V still has a long way to go equal VMware. If you are running Windows workloads, Hyper-V is becoming competitive, however virtual appliances based on open source operating systems are not supported on Hyper-V.
VMware is a software company with a sole focus on building a cloud infrastructure built on top of it's core virtualization product, vSphere. Microsoft is a OS company that captured/locked the market through it's licensing and continues to do so customers through their licensing. MSFT is now playing "follow the leader" but without the right pieces in place, and have a piecemeal solution with a great story. For "Pirates of Silicon Valley"...eye opener.
Hyperv-V is getting better, but I will not recommend hyper-v to an enterprise customer
VMware is years ahead in terms of innovation and Microsoft is just copying the VMware features with significant delay.
Microsoft is creating hype, which is delaying virtualization adoption for everyone. However when companies see the true cost of Hyper-V they will not be able to beat the value that vmware brings to an organizations TCO for IT.
Only a matter of time; VMware = Novell
Yes, if VMW doesn't get their act together in terms of licensing. I see many of our customers evaluating other hypervisors or not upgrading, due to the perceived high licensing costs or the premium of VMware. VMW has the largest feature set, but not all people need that.
If you look at the whole portfolio instead of just the hypervisor then you see the real difference. Of course even with the hypervisor level features, MS is still playing catchup.
Hyperv3 costs less delivers more, if vmw isn't so concerned why are they buying companies to manage other clouds?
NO, just really MSFT committed companies make that choice. For real future performance VMware is the best.
A real solution compared to marketing fluff. You write about anything as long as MSFT keeps advertising
Since VCmware gives more and more funtionalities to microsofts Freebies which makes a Greater difference
VMware will excelerate development to widen the gap between vSphere and Hyper-V
Its 100% true that VMWare is highly considered than Hyper-V. I am a MSP and I am providing VMWare ESX backup and recovery service for more than 300 customers in US with Storegrid cloud, but when it comes to Hyper -v the count gets low with the users using it.
I cant help thinking that whilst VMware is a superior product, many companies employing Microsoft technical staff will be put off not only by the cost of the product but also the cost of training. In order to obtain VMware qualifications an official training course has to be attended which is not cheap. No provision for self study if you want to qualify unlike the Microsoft training roadmap. From my perspective VMware is elitist and it grieves me to say so as I love the product but will never be qualified unless my employer stumps up cash for training and certification.
MS is starting to take a giant leap. just like in Novell's days
biggest factor is if they can achieve the performance as good as VMware.
Vmware must respond to threat by being more competitive with their offerings. This is the only way to slow Microft's recent and impending growth.
Would you REALLY want to have your complete infrastructure based on Microsoft? How many blue screens, interoperability problems, driver issues, etc have I had over the last 10 years with MS? Too many to count. Now take that and multiply it. You'll see the big picture.
They will, plain and simple.

But in truth, there is no wholesale attack on VMware coming from Microsoft. There really isn't any point. For every VMware license that is sold there are at least 1 (and in most cases MANY more) Microsoft license sold. So it is a win/win.

The two are in different worlds, with different users. Always will be.

Just my opinion.....
Powerful eats the weaker one. MS has control over O/S and can force many to convert
Not fast but over the time, many costumers will have both.
Would be interesting to see how many cu have already both virtualization platforms.
You're the missing the bigger picture. Hyper-V is gaining share and VMware is losing share and ws2012 hasn't even shipped yet. If hyper-vr2 is winning now, what does this mean with hyper-v3 and server2012? One word: novell.
Microsoft almost completely supplant the other players within SMB market, but will not be able to win in large Enterprises.
Wherever someone that understands both technologies makes the decision, it is invariably VMware that runs production. Anyone willingly using Hyper-V to run business critical systems should be canned for negligence. My opinion, of course. Test / Dev... sure.