Gartner has added Microsoft and Citrix to the leaders section of its server virtualization Magic Quadrant, recognizing the growth of Hyper-V and XenServer over the past year.
“Microsoft has increased its market share (especially among midmarket customers new to virtualization), and Citrix is leveraging its desktop virtualization strengths and its free XenServer offering to expand its server virtualization share,” Gartner analysts wrote.
To produce the Magic Quadrant, Gartner evaluates vendors on their products and services, overall viability, sales and marketing execution and more. VMware ranked the highest, with the most complete vision and best execution of that vision, but Microsoft and Citrix both scored high enough to make the leaders quadrant. Microsoft beat Citrix on “ability to execute,” and Citrix beat Microsoft on “completeness of vision.”
Gartner attributed Microsoft’s growth to Hyper-V’s success “among midmarket customers new to virtualization, where it is winning at least 30% of the time.” The firm cited Hyper-V’s low price and new features, such as Dynamic Memory, as drivers of this growth.
“At the hypervisor and basic administration level, Microsoft has closed most of its technology gaps with market leader VMware (which tends to have an advantage with higher-level management and automation tools),” the analysts wrote.
Gartner identified Citrix as the third-place vendor in terms of market share, attributing its growth to its popularity in the desktop virtualization market, plus the free edition of XenServer. But the analysts questioned Citrix’s friendly relationship with Microsoft and its effect on XenServer.
“Citrix’s go-to-market strategy regarding how it competes with/complements Microsoft remains confusing for many customers and channel partners,” they wrote.
VMware and others have tried to argue that free virtualization will actually cost you more money in the long run, but this Gartner report indicates that the free Microsoft and Citrix offerings are in fact striking a chord with certain customers.
The “VMware costs way too much” seed that Microsoft planted three years ago in Las Vegas has finally taken root. And with VMworld returning to Sin City this summer — and a new version of vSphere due before then — it would behoove VMware to finally address this issue.]]>
Citrix CEO Mark Templeton only mentioned XenServer a couple of times during his Wednesday-morning keynote, and he actually brought up Microsoft Hyper-V first, calling it “a great platform for XenDesktop.” And only one of the dozen or so press releases that Citrix issued at the show focused on XenServer — but that was about a new remote-management product, not XenServer 5.6 Feature Pack 2 or the XenServer 6.0 beta, which both came out last week.
I asked John Humphreys, Citrix’s senior director of product marketing, about this seeming lack of XenServer love. He told me not to read into the number of XenServer mentions in the keynote, pointing out that there was also very little talk about XenApp, and nobody questions Citrix’s commitment to that product.
Fair enough, but still, Citrix’s marketing strategy around XenServer is frustrating, especially when you hear about some of its new features. The biggest enhancement is the self-service manager, which will help organizations turn their data centers into private clouds. It will support XenServer, VMware and Hyper-V, and there will also be some experimental support for connecting to public clouds.
Self-service manager seems like a pretty useful feature for XenServer users and mixed-hypervisor shops. You’d think Citrix would want people to know about it. VMware started talking about vCloud Director more than a year before its release. Sure, that’s probably overkill, but at least you knew that VMware was excited about the product.
I don’t get that same sense about Citrix and XenServer. It doesn’t help that most XenServer mentions come with some sort of caveat, like, “We’d love it if they used XenServer, but…” Citrix’s commitment to choice and openness is commendable, but it shouldn’t stop the company from advocating for its own product.]]>
At the beginning of my recent phone call with Stratus Technologies, I called the company a “fault-tolerant server vendor.” Roy Sanford, Stratus’ chief marketing officer, responded: “That’s kind of like calling Ford a ‘steering wheel company.’”
That’s not the best analogy, because Ford isn’t famous for its steering wheels. Stratus, on the other hand, is best known for its “ultra high availability servers,” as even its website says. But the point Sanford was trying to make — that Stratus does more than just fault-tolerant servers — is true.
Last year, the 30-year-old company got into the fault-tolerant software game with its Avance product, which synchronizes two servers in real time. Avance, a bare-metal install that provides users with a full Citrix XenServer environment, targets organizations with limited IT expertise and fewer than 500 employees. Naturally, the big question there is, why XenServer and not VMware or Hyper-V?
“It clearly was the lower-cost solution and provided everything the smaller business would need,” Sanford said.
I also asked Sanford if Stratus got into software because, as we recently reported, fault-tolerant hardware hasn’t exactly set the virtualization market on fire. But he didn’t agree with that premise.
“Fault-tolerant hardware can catch on in the virtualization space,” he said. “We have actually seen an up-tick in the number of customers who are keenly interested in fault-tolerant hardware.”
Instead, Sanford said Stratus expanded into software to address new availability problems brought on by virtualization. In the past, he explained, one of the leading causes of downtime was the failure of individual hardware components, network cards and drivers. Those systems have become more and more reliable over the years, but downtime is still a major issue, now thanks to the complexities and interdependencies of virtual infrastructures. A software approach can help address those causes, Sanford said.]]>
Citrix attributed its record profits to an increased interest in desktop virtualization and the launch of XenDesktop 4. But its quarterly revenue grew by only 8% compared to Q4 in 2008, and revenue from product licenses and license renewals grew 4% and 6%, respectively.
The really big growth came from technical services and online services, which saw revenues increase by 18% and 20%, respectively.
Citrix’s press release did not mention XenServer at all. Skeptics would point to that as just another indicator that Citrix is giving up on XenServer. But the company has said all along that, by making XenServer free and open source, one of the goals is to drive more services business. Judging by these financial results, that strategy is working.
Citrix’s results come just days after VMware reported that its fourth-quarter profits fell by 49% — although VMware earnings for the quarter did beat Wall Street expectations by more than $50 million.]]>
Xen 4.0 will feature fault tolerance and the Open Virtual Switch, among other new features. Open source virtualization expert Sander van Vugt said the Open Virtual Switch “will take networking in Xen to the next level.”
“I’m convinced that this release is going to be huge,” he wrote in an email.
The new release comes at a crucial point for Xen. Citrix, the company most closely associated with Xen, faces constant questions about its commitment to XenServer and the server virtualization market as a whole.
Meanwhile, as virtualization.info’s Alessandro Perilli points out, Oracle is looking to become a bigger player in virtualization. Its Oracle VM is also Xen-based, so Xen 4.0 could help its charge into the market. (But then again, so could the rumored Oracle-Citrix acquisition.)
Xen also has an emerging open source challenger on its in hands in KVM, which is built into the Linux kernel. Although van Vugt took the side of KVM in our recent Xen vs. KVM debate, he still predicts good things for the future of Xen.
“Currently, VMware clearly is the more complete virtualization solution,” he wrote in his email. “Releasing the Xen 4 hypervisor will put Xen completely back in the picture, not only for Citrix, but for all other players in the Xen area as well.”]]>
(If you don’t remember, you can check out a full recap in our recent list of the top 10 server virtualization news stories of the year so far.)
Anyway, since February — but before we published that list — something changed. Another hypervisor has since met 100% of the Burton Group’s criteria. And that hypervisor is Citrix XenServer 5.5.]]>
These new products hold a lot of promise. But for now, the best application of mobile phone virtualization is to use mobile devices to manage existing virtual environments. The latest release in this area of the market comes from Hyper9, which yesterday unveiled its Virtualization Mobile Manager (VMM).
Hyper9 claims VMM — which was designed by virtualization expert (and TechTarget contributor) Andrew Kutz — is the first mobile manager that supports VMware, Hyper-V and XenServer. It also lets users monitor virtual machine CPU and memory usage and configure VMs based on server name or browser type.
The Hyper9 VMM is not the first and definitely won’t be the last entrant into this market. Just last month, expert Edward L. Haletky wrote about TouchTerm, a free iPhone app he used to fix a VMware ESX server while on vacation.
With VMware MVP, you could potentially have your business phone and your personal phone on the same device — even on different carriers’ networks. And Citrix Receiver lets you stream non-native applications on your iPhone.
Still, both of these products are far from hitting the mainstream. (Even VMware partners say MVP is, to quote one eloquent journalist, “way too new.”)
VMware MVP and Citrix Receiver mirror the server and desktop approaches to virtualization, respectively, and most organizations still have a lot of virtualization challenges to tackle on their servers and desktops before they move to mobile devices.
So for the time being, the ability to manage your existing infrastructure from a phone is clearly more valuable than what the sexier products from VMware and Citrix offer.]]>
It goes back to “it’s not what but who you know,” and Maritz knows Microsoft. He knows Ballmer, Gates and every other player there. He was one of the most influential and instrumental executives in Microsoft’s history. His reach is wide when it comes to pulling people into the fold — not necessarily by bringing ex-Microsoft folks in as employees, but rather by having high-level working relationships with all the partners that Microsoft has worked with and that EMC and VMware have worked with or would love to work with. He also knows the PC Revolution firsthand, having seen the rise and fall of Novell’s NetWare, Banyan’s VINES and the host of minis and mains that these replaced, only to be replaced by Windows a few years later.
Tucci also knows Microsoft — EMC’s storage products center around the Microsoft world as much as any other operating system. Exchange data stores, SQL databases, file shares — all of these are EMC’s bread and butter in selling storage to the modern data center. Its software, even though some products compete (like Documentum versus Sharepoint PS), is built around a Windows-centric world.
Then there’s the history — Microsoft knows how to win. It buys what it can’t make on its own, then drowns the competition in price wars and advertising battles. Novell, once Microsoft’s bitter rival for network OS sales, now sells Linux licenses to Microsoft. Netscape is gone and the ghost of its second cousin twice removed, the Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox, lives on to take what is really an insignificant chunk of Internet Explorer’s market share. Corel/Novell WordPerfect? Only if you’re working in a huge law firm will you see WP on an enterprise level.
Put these together and the fabled VMware versus Microsoft Hypervisor war starts to look less like an armed conflict between bitter rivals and more like a strategic partnership built through a demonstration of independence. Tucci’s no fool — Maritz is there for the day that the Redmond giant comes knocking. He’s there to build thin but sturdy roads between the two companies. He’s there to forge something like the Citrix/Microsoft alliance, where Citrix is an independent company but still acts in many ways like a subsidiary of Microsoft (or at least an extension). In Martiz’s VMworld keynote speech (not the parts about having “sins to atone for” in his early days of programming for the PC Revolution), he barely mentioned Greene and hardly touched on competition with Microsoft. He’s looking forward to the day when he can do what only Citrix has managed to do so far — preserve independence while under Redmond’s all-seeing eye.
In the end, we’ll see VMware’s VDC-OS as the dominant force in the virtualization space with Hyper-V as an acceptable but lesser alternative, much like Citrix’s MetaFrame/XenApp and Microsoft’s Terminal Services. I think this leaves one question: In the long run, what happens to Citrix now that it’s betting so heavily on Xen and taking on Microsoft and VMware directly in the systems virtualization market?]]>
Fast-forward 10 years to today. Microsoft bundles its Hyper-V hypervisor with Windows Server 2008, so anyone who uses Windows Server 2008 also gets Hyper-V.
Is this déjà vu?
Just for fun, let’s play a little game. In the Wikipedia definition of United States v. Microsoft, let’s replace “Web browser” with “hypervisor,” “Netscape” with “VMware,” and “Internet Explorer” with “Hyper-V.”
Here we go:
United States v. Microsoft 87 F. Supp. 2d 30 (D.D.C. 2000) was a set of consolidated civil actions filed against Microsoft Corp. on May 18, 1998 by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and twenty U.S. states. Joel I. Klein was the lead prosecutor. The plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power in its handling of operating system sales and hypervisor sales. The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Hyper-V hypervisor software with its Microsoft Windows operating system.
Bundling them together is alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft’s victory in the hypervisor wars as every Windows user had a copy of Hyper-V. It was further alleged that this unfairly restricted the market for competing hypervisors (such as VMware Inc.) that were slow to download over a modem or had to be purchased at a store.
Underlying these disputes were questions over whether Microsoft altered or manipulated its application programming interfaces (APIs) to favor Hyper-V over third-party hypervisors, Microsoft’s conduct in forming restrictive licensing agreements with OEM computer manufacturers, and Microsoft’s intent in its course of conduct.
Microsoft stated that the merging of Microsoft Windows and Hyper-V was the result of innovation and competition, that the two were now the same product and were inextricably linked together and that consumers were now getting all the benefits of IE for free. Those who opposed Microsoft’s position countered that the hypervisor was still a distinct and separate product which did not need to be tied to the operating system, since a separate version of Hyper-V was available for Mac OS. They also asserted that IE was not really free because its development and marketing costs may have kept the price of Windows higher than it might otherwise have been. The case was tried before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. The DOJ was initially represented by David Boies.
That was fun. Just a game, of course.
But it appears to me that by bundling Hyper-V with Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has the same advantage over VMware, Citrix and any other hypervisor provider that it had over Netscape Navigator in the 1990s.
This time around, Microsoft is probably safe from a lawsuit, though.
According to Wikipedia, “On November 2, 2001, the DOJ reached an agreement with Microsoft to settle the case. The proposed settlement required Microsoft to share its application programming interfaces with third-party companies. … However, the DOJ did not require Microsoft to change any of its code nor prevent Microsoft from tying other software with Windows in the future. … Nine states and the District of Columbia did not agree with the settlement, arguing that it did not go far enough to curb Microsoft’s anti-competitive business practices. On June 30, 2004, the U.S. appeals court unanimously approved the settlement with the Justice Department, rejecting objections from Massachusetts that the sanctions were inadequate.”
I’m not saying that what happened to Netscape will happen to VMware. In the virtualization market, VMware is in a strong position with a huge lead over Microsoft, and VMware’s products are far more mature and feature-rich. Hell, Microsoft doesn’t even offer live migration yet.
But some analysts predict that history will repeat itself.
I hope all the existing hypervisor vendors can co-exist. It gives users choice and keeps costs down, as we saw when both Citrix and VMware reduced their hypervisor prices to zero this year.
I’d like to hear your feedback on the virtualization industry and whether you think VMware can maintain its position as industry leader.]]>
In response to Marathon’s blog dissin’ the upcoming feature, Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware‘s Mike DePetrillo, a principal systems engineer, wrote a blog defending VMware Fault Tolerance.
For starters, Marathon complained that VMware does not provide component-level fault tolerance. “The most common failures that result in unplanned downtime are component failures such as storage, NIC [network interface card] or controller failures. Yet VMware Fault Tolerance doesn’t do anything to protect against I/O, storage or network failures.”
DePetrillo noted that VMware already has features to protect again component failure. “If your NIC fails you’ve got NIC teaming built into the system. To set it up simply plug in both NICs to the server, go into the network panel and attach both of them to the same virtual switch. Done. Four clicks. Same thing for storage with the built-in SAN [storage area network] multipathing drivers,” DePetrillo wrote. “I absolutely agree with the author that component failures are the cause of most crashes and that’s why VMware added these features in 2002. VMware FT is not designed for component failure because there’s no sense in moving the VM to another host if you’ve simply lost a NIC uplink. NIC teaming will take care of that with ease and is a LOT cheaper than using CPU and memory resources on another host to overcome the failure.”
Marathon’s second beef: VMware’s fault tolerance is too complex. “In order to use VMware Fault Tolerance, you’ll first have to install both VMware HA [High Availability] and DRS [Distributed Resource Scheduler]. No small feat in and of themselves. Then, because VMware FT requires NIC teaming, you’ll also have to manually install paired NICs. Then you’ll need to manually set up dual storage controllers (with the software to manage them) because it requires multipathing. And to top it all off, you’re required to use an expensive, and often complicated, SAN.”
DePetrillo said the process requires checking off two boxes – HA and DRS. That’s it. “If that’s too hard then please comment and let me know how it could possibly be easier. Even my dog has figured out how to do this now. Granted, it’s a pretty smart dog.”
“As for setting up the dual NICs and dual HBAs [host bus adapters], well, yes, you have to actually plug the physical devices in. After you’ve done that the **built-in** NIC teaming and HBA drivers will take over and configure most everything for you. The NIC teaming does require four extra clicks. The HBA drivers actually figure out the failover paths, match them up, and set up the appropriate form of failover all auto-magically. They’ve been doing this since ESX 1.5 (6 years ago),” DePetrillo blogged.
“Lastly, yes, this requires shared storage. Pretty sure that most environments that want FT (no downtime what-so-ever because our business could lose millions) already have a SAN to take advantage of other things virtualization related such as DRS and VMotion,” he wrote.
Also, VMware FT does not require dual NICs or dual HBAs because, DePetrillo said, “This is something you should have in every virtualization setup that’s running VMs you care anything about, but it’s not a requirement to get VMware FT [Fault Tolerance] running.”
The last point Marathon makes that’s worth spending any time on is that VMware offers onlylimited CPU fault tolerance. “With VMware FT, you’ll need to set up what VMware refers to as a “record/replay” capability on both a primary and secondary server. If something happens to the primary server, the record is stored on the SAN and then restarted on the secondary server. … The whole thing depends on the quality of the SAN. Second, in the words of the VMware engineer who presented at VMworld, “this can take a couple of seconds.” So what happens to your application state in those couple of seconds?”
DePetrillo’s defense is that “if you’re the type of company that requires absolutely no downtime for an app — if the app is just that critical — then I’m pretty sure you’re going to have a decent SAN. … If you’re having so many problems with your SAN that you don’t trust it for FT, then you have much bigger issues at hand that VMware or Marathon or any of the other virtualization related vendors aren’t going to help you with.”
You can read more of VMware’s comments on DePetrillo’s blog, which gets into some details on how VMware Fault Tolerance will work, and vice versa for Marathon.
But I think it is obvious that Marathon is making VMware’s fault tolerance feature seem worse than it is, and VMware is making its new feature seem simpler than it is.
For the most part, this is a pissing contest between the incumbent fault-tolerance vendor and the “new guy,” but the fact of the matter is, if you use VMware virtualization, you can’t use Marathon Technologies because they don’t support VMware (obviously) and if you use Citrix Systems’ XenServer, you can’t use VMware Fault Tolerance, so these arguments are moot.]]>