Role Reversal: VMware Now Raining On Microsoft's Virtualization Parade

As Microsoft gears up to release Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V version 3, VMware is taking the opportunity to engage in some pre-launch criticism of the features and functionality it will include.

Windows Server 2012 is widely expected to arrive this fall, and Hyper-V is getting a major upgrade. In the Windows Server 2012 "release candidate", which Microsoft unveiled in late May, Hyper-V virtual machines support up to 64 virtual processors, 1 Terabyte of RAM, and up to 64 terabytes per each virtual hard disk, Jeff Woolsey, Microsoft's program manager for Windows Server virtualization, told CRN in an email.

VMware, which used to turned the other cheek to Microsoft's server virtualization trash talking, is now pointing out that Microsoft has a tendency to talk about unreleased products as if they are already available.

[Related: Fed-Up VMware Fires Back At Microsoft's Virtualization Trash Talk ]

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"Hyper-V has been 'around the corner' for seven years now," VMware Steve Herrod told CRN in an interview last week. "Hyper-V v3 isn't shipping yet and they've been talking about it for a year and a half."

For years, Microsoft has focused on cost comparisons, but in VMware's view, these are selective calculations that do not account for the full operational costs of Hyper-V.

"They beat on the cost perspective time and time again. But, people are really seeing it’s the operational cost; it’s the total cost of actually running this that you need to be thinking about," Herrod said.

In May, VMware published results of a side-by-side test from research firm Principled Technologies that showed that the combination of vSphere and vCenter Site Recovery Manager costs less to operate than Hyper-V and System Center.

In Hyper-V v3, Microsoft has significantly closed the feature/functionality gap with vSphere, one virtualization solution provider told CRN. However, he does not put much stock in Microsoft's comparisons when it comes to factors such as maximum number of VMs per host and logical cores per host.

"None of that really matters in the real world today -- how many customers are actually deploying single hosts which have anywhere close to 160 CPU cores? Pretty close to zero from what I can see," said the source, who requested anonymity to avoid harming his partnerships with both vendors.

NEXT: Will This Hyper-V Give VMware Headaches?

Cost comparisons aside, Hyper-V is typically cheaper than VMware in higher-end configurations, a fact that VMware -- which sees itself as the "Cadillac" of the virtualization market -- readily admits.

The big question is how much share of the small and medium-sized business market Microsoft can lure away in the upcoming Hyper-V release. While such a development has been predicted for years, solution providers that work with both companies have not seen a definitive shift from VMware to Microsoft.

That said, Microsoft can certainly consider incremental gains to be a step in the right direction. Scott Miller, director of cloud and virtualization at World Wide Technology, a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based solution provider, says Microsoft may see some gains in the small business space.

"I would agree that this release of Hyper-V has taken a long time. But if it delivers as advertised, there are a lot clients interested in considering it as an alternative option to a VMware Support and Subscription Services renewal," Miller said in an interview. "Our clients are asking about Hyper-V v3, and we are making sure we are educated about what it can and cannot do."

Microsoft has used creative methods in the past to position Hyper-V as a cheaper option to VMware. At VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas, Microsoft handed out $1 casino chips and flyers advertising its website.

More recently, Microsoft's "VM-Limited" campaign, which features the mutton chop-wearing, 1970s throwback Tad, ridiculed VMware for being stuck in virtualization and unable to progress into cloud infrastructure.

While humorous, Microsoft's campaigns are signs of its zealous quest to knock VMware from its dominant perch in the server virtualization market. The heavily-produced and no-doubt expensive Microsoft campaigns have also not gone unnoticed at VMware headquarters.

VMware has not responded to Microsoft's VM-Limited campaign, but if it were to do so, it would sound like this: "We would say you should invest as much in your engineering as you do in your marketing to bring you product up to snuff," Herrod told CRN.

This article updated on June 28 at 10:35 a.m. Pacific time to update Microsoft's estimates for Hyper-V virtual machine capacity