The Virtualization Room

Oct 21 2010   10:47AM GMT

Hyper-V vs. VMware not much of a fight these days

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

The July 2009 release of Microsoft Hyper-V R2 came with a lot of hype.

Not just “Wow, this Hyper-V thing really has a chance to take off!” hype. We’re talking “Is VMware the next Novell?” and “Is the sky falling on VMware?” hype.

In some corners, VMware was still the successful little engine that could, and Microsoft was the giant locomotive that would run it off the tracks — just like it had against Netware, Netscape, Lotus and others. But here we are 15 months later, and that vision isn’t even close to reality.

Sure, Hyper-V adoption is growing. Gartner estimates that Microsoft’s server virtualization market share will reach 27% by 2012, up from just 8% in 2008. And IDC has Microsoft at 23% already. But still, to paraphrase Run DMC, VMware is the king of virtualization. There is none higher.

Thomas Bittman, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst, wrote this week that “Hyper-V is under-performing” and questioned if his expectations for Microsoft were too high. Clearly they were, and he’s not the only one to make that mistake (present company included).

Just take a look at the results of our “Virtualization Decisions 2010 Purchasing Intentions Survey.” Microsoft’s overall market share numbers may be up, but the company actually lost ground in its battle for virtualization supremacy. Last year, when we asked people to identify their primary server virtualization platform, 67% said VMware and 12% said Microsoft. This year, VMware jumped to 76% and Microsoft only went up to 13%.

By combining analysts’ market figures and our survey results, you can assume that most Hyper-V adoption is taking place in existing VMware shops. (If Microsoft’s overall market share is going up, but the percentage of Hyper-V-first shops is staying the same, that means the increased adoption is taking place in shops that don’t primarily use Hyper-V.)

That’s not a good sign for Microsoft. The “get a foot in the door and convert VMware customers” approach isn’t going to work. Most users aren’t going to rip and replace their entire VMware infrastructure, unless they’re really, tremendously, super-duper-unhappy with it.

As Bittman wrote, the thought was that Hyper-V R2 would attract midmarket customers that hadn’t virtualized much (if any) of their infrastructure. That way, Microsoft’s market share would grow, and more users would identify Hyper-V as their primary platform.

But that hasn’t been the case, and there’s no sign that Microsoft — even with Dynamic Memory in the upcoming Hyper-V R2 SP1 — will be able to change that.

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