Virtualization Pro

May 19 2009   3:01PM GMT

Will VMware give away VMotion and HA for free?

Eric Siebert Eric Siebert Profile: Eric Siebert

The virtualization wars heated up again last week when Microsoft announced that the next release of Hyper-V will include Live Migration, its version of VMotion, and High Availability (HA) features for free. Currently, these features are not included for free in VMware’s free edition of ESXi; VMotion is only available in the Advanced and Enterprise versions of vSphere; and HA is included in all but the free and the low-end Essentials edition. This just serves as further proof that Microsoft is desperate to catch up with VMware and win new customers and existing VMware customers.

Microsoft can afford to give things away for free as it has deep pockets and offers a great deal of other products and services. If Microsoft was the clear leader in the virtualization space, than it would more than likely be charging customers for Hyper-V and other advanced features. Right now, though, Microsoft is playing catch-up, and giving things away for free is the best way to do that. Because Hyper-V is relatively new it just can’t compete with VMware in areas such as features, performance and product maturity so Microsoft continues to hammer away at the one area that is easy for them to compete at: cost.

So how will VMware respond to this? Most likely, VMware will match Microsoft’s initiative and add VMotion and HA functionality to the free version of ESXi, and possibly one-up Microsoft by also including another management product for free.

VMotion by itself is a useful feature but by no way a critical component to a virtual environment; it simply allows a VM to migrate from one host to another without any downtime, handy? Yes. Necessary? Not so much. VMotion is mostly useful when patching hosts and doing hardware maintenance that requires a host to be shut down or restarted. VMotion, however, is the foundation for many other advanced features like Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Distributed Power Management (DPM), which require VMotion in order to work. Those features have direct benefits as they help ensure a well-balanced environment and also result in cost savings from lower power consumption.

In my opinion, if VMware chooses to follow suite and give HA and VMotion away, it wouldn’t hurt VMware too much. Many customers will still want the additional features like DRS and DPM that rely on VMotion. Further, it’s possible to get HA functionality for free on ESX hosts via a few different methods, so giving HA away for free would be a good move. As we get closer to the release date for Hyper-V R2, expect VMware to fire back at Microsoft in some way to even out the playing field.

6  Comments on this Post

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  • Clinek
    Hi Eric, Giving away HA/VMotion would require giving away vCenter (or a subset thereof). I think that's been the holdup all along. It will be interesting to see if/how VMware addresses this. KLC
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  • Eric Siebert
    Good point, it would definitely require some changes. HA works without vCenter but you need vCenter to configure it. We'll have to wait and see how VMware responds. This free back and forth stuff is good for customers but not for VMware or Microsoft. I'm sure VMware is getting tired of playing these games with Microsoft. VMware has a better product and their VMotion is smooth, easy and proven technology, same with HA., we'll have to wait and see what Microsoft delivers.
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  • Jasonboche
    From an extremes standpoint, VMotion is much closer to a requirement than it is as a nice-to-have. For many shops who run VMs that provide continuous availability, especially to external or web facing customers, VMotion is a requirement. Or maybe alternatively you invest heavily in other technologies such as Big IP/F5, but even that doesn't solve all of the problems that VMotion will. The first thing that ALWAYS comes to mind when a host w/ 50 VMs is in jeopardy or needs immediate maintenance is "can I VMotion?" The first question that the customers come back with when a host outage is required is "Are our VMs going to go down/do we need an outage?" Coordinating the outage of 50 servers in short order is very difficult. Not having VMotion is a change management nightmare. It doesn't have to be. Not having VMotion is a choice.
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  • DeinosCloud
    There is something to seriously consider, the amount of money invested in vSpeher 4... At some stage VMware has to earn money somewhere, it is their core business and cannot just give away for free! MS on the opposite can do it easily. Look at the marketing battle, cause to win a battle better to fight on your ground, despite the fact current Hyper-V solution sux.
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  • Advanced
    In the end MS is going to win this battle, they may not have the best technical features right now, but they eventually will, and at a very lower price, just ask Novell, Mac, Lotus, etc. etc. etc.
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  • Flicka7
    [B]Fault Tolerance[/B]- the key to this discussion is the ability (which VMware now has and which M$ doesn't yet have on the roadmap) to [I]absolutely[/I] provide continuous availability. If you haven't seen a demo of FT, you should see it-- amazing. Think "jerk the power cord out of the back of the server, and the VM just keeps right on going..." As this "one up" game continues, M$ may have more $$$, but their own efforts are driving us all into the arms of "SAAS everything". What vendor is the best qualified to take advantage of that? The answer isn't a vendor, it's [B]open source[/B].
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