My Digg reader kicked out a great RedmondMag.com interview with VMware’s “product guru” Raghu Raghuram today in which he discusses the company’s product philosophy and how it translates to the VMware product line. During the interview, Raghuram says that there is a “stark difference” between Microsoft’s and VMware’s approach to virtualization. He had this to say about how he positions VMware ESX Server against Hyper-V:
Our view is that the core virtualization layer belongs in the hardware. It also has to be much smaller in order to reduce its surface area for attacks. This is why we introduced the 3i architecture . . . The Microsoft approach is to have virtualization be an adjunct to the OS . . . With the Hyper-V architecture, they’re still maintaining the same dependency on the OS.”
VMware ESX and Hyper-V are both bare metal virtualization products. To belabor an explanation, this means that they both sit in a thin OS layer abstracted from the hardware. This veritably eliminates hardware dependencies. However, Raghuram seems to be suggesting that Hyper-V is more of a hosted virtualization approach. This could be a misunderstanding on his part, questionable editing, or just a case of Microsoft being Microsoft.
At any rate, one difference that is certain can be logically approached when considering ESX versus Hyper-V. Something that virtualization expert Andrew Kutz said at a recent virtualization seminar keeps flashing in my mind. In his (and others’) view, Hyper-V will be the virtualization vendor to beat. This isn’t because Hyper-V is particularly a better product, but because VMware can’t compete with Microsoft on the level of supporting applications and interoperability.
In other words, after years of development and being the big guy in the computing space, Microsoft has a support cloud of applications and services all designed to work together that VMware will need to emulate in order to remain the leader in enterprise virtualization. This remains to be seen. But especially considering the low Hyper-V price tag ($28), VMware must be prepared to counter, at least with lower pricing.