Much awaited gartner report for server virtualization is now available.
Hyper-V is picking up and getting closer to VMWare. This year, Huawei also got included into the group.
Microsoft has effectively closed most of the functionality gap with VMware in terms of the x86 server virtualization infrastructure. Additional gaps remain in management and automation features — notably, VMware’s Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is more automated and better-suited for large-scale disaster recovery requirements. Importantly, Microsoft made Hyper-V Recovery Manager (HRM) available in January 2014 — an Azure-hosted service that orchestrates Hyper-V Replica for disaster recovery purposes. Microsoft plans to expand that offering by including Azure-based replication and recovery, and renaming the offering Microsoft Azure Site Recovery (currently in preview mode). It is too early to judge the competitiveness of these offerings, but they will be critical to Microsoft’s success against VMware.
System Center VMM 2012 and Windows Azure Pack (delivered October 2013) dramatically improve the ability to create private cloud solutions based on Hyper-V, which also enables service providers to use Microsoft as the basis for cloud offerings. While Microsoft does not have the service provider ecosystem that VMware has, Microsoft’s Azure service is becoming a growing attraction for enterprises that want to develop Microsoft-based applications on-premises and in the cloud using common development and management tools.
While the management functionality is strong, ease of use (for example, clients report that Hyper-V HA is relatively difficult to set up and manage) and lack of fully centralized management remain issues. While most management tasks can be handled through VMM, some require Hyper-V Manager or Windows PowerShell. Microsoft has made improvements in recent versions of Hyper-V and System Center.
Microsoft can now meet the needs of most enterprises with respect to server virtualization. Its challenge is neither feature nor functions, but competing in a market with an entrenched competitor, VMware. Microsoft is now winning a good percentage of enterprises that are not heavily virtualized yet — especially those that are mostly Windows-based (while Linux support is improved, especially in Windows Server 2012 R2, there are very few customers using Hyper-V for Linux). However, few enterprises that are heavily virtualized with an alternative technology are choosing to go through the effort to switch. A growing number of large enterprises are finding niches in which to place Microsoft — for example, in stores, branch offices or separate data centers. This strategy of “second sourcing” will enable these enterprises to evaluate Hyper-V for further deployments and perhaps leverage the competition in deals with VMware. While Microsoft’s technology is capable, winning the larger and more mission-critical deployments will be an uphill battle and will require more proof points.
Microsoft’s challenge is less about products but much more about sales and marketing, as well as overcoming an entrenched competitor with high-quality products and happy customers. The most important factor in Microsoft’s favor is price. Unlike VMware, Microsoft does not rely uniquely on a business model based on virtualization software. At the same time, the market — including service providers — is becoming more concerned about vendor lock-in. In a market moving to cloud infrastructures based on virtualization software, and with growing interest in potentially heterogeneous and open-source solutions such as OpenStack, Microsoft must be careful to not position itself as just another proprietary solution. Furthermore, it must find ways to differentiate itself from VMware based on its service provider and Azure offerings — for example, using Azure for disaster recovery and developing new applications Azure — but managed centrally together with on-premises assets. In the end, Azure interoperability may become the more important factor compared with price.