Partners: Microsoft Still Trailing In Virtualization

what it calls a 'feature complete' release candidate

In fact, despite Microsoft's insistence that Hyper-V won't be ready for launch until the August timeframe, some partners seem to be channeling former Wendy's spokesperson Clara 'Where's the Beef' Peller in their assessments of Hyper-V's current functionality.

"If this is what they call 'feature complete,' then Hyper-V is definitely number three on my radar after VMware and Xensource," said one virtualization solution provider and Microsoft partner, who requested anonymity. "There are certain capabilities that are glaringly absent from the platform, such as high availability, resource management, and memory overcommitment."

VMware has taken charge of the virtualization market on the strength of enterprise-class features such as true VMotion/LiveMigration with zero downtime, load balancing, and power balancing, says Chris Ward, senior solutions architect at GreenPages Technology Solutions, Kittery, Me.

"I don't believe Microsoft will have a true competitor to ESX Server for at least another year, and it will certainly still be missing features which ESX Server has," Ward said.

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Ron Herardian, president of Global System Services, a Mountain View, Calif., solution provider, doesn't see any fundamental technological shortcomings in Hyper-V, but says Microsoft still lacks the supporting products and infrastructure to be considered a real threat in the virtualization space.

For example, VMware VMotion can be used in data center environments or on a blade server to provide mainframe type functionality on Intel hardware, according to Herardian.

"Microsoft needs to catch up to VMware, and they're not there yet. They have a long way to go to catch up on some of the supporting products and infrastructure they need to compete effectively [in the virtualization market]," said Herardian.

Microsoft also needs to raise its virtualization management platform up to the level of ESX Server, because as things stand now, it's necessary to put the whole Server 2008 stack on the box to manage the server, says Jaymes Davis, virtualization practice manager at Entisys, a Concord, Calif.-based solution provider.

"They really need a management tool in the future that will have that capability, as well as powerfail features," Davis said.

On the positive side, Hyper-V now has a lot of paravirtualization features VARs been really hoping for to boost its speed and efficiency, said Davis. "Hyper-V is ready to start challenging ESX Server," he said.

Likewise, Herardian is confident that Microsoft will eventually plug the feature gaps in its virtualization toolbox and become a "highly competitive" player. "Microsoft has the biggest footprint in the world, and they can leverage their installed based, and once they do, there's nothing that can stop them," he said. "Hyper-V is now ready to start challenging ESX Server as a hypervisor."