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Microsoft Sets Hyper-V Free

In case you hadn't noticed, the first four letters in the word "hyper" are H-Y-P-E. And, until today, a lot of what we knew about the core product in Microsoft's virtualization strategy, the Hyper-V hypervisor, was just that: hype. (Well, hype and the fact that, as we've maintained, Hyper-V sounds like an '80s break-dancing name.)

OK, so that's not entirely true -- the hype part, anyway; we stand by the breakdancing thing. Hyper-V has been in beta for a while, and some partners have customers running on it and have for some time. Microsoft says that a million people have downloaded the Hyper-V beta and are using the product. (Then again, Microsoft calls Vista a success.) So, we do know something more about Hyper-V than just hype.

Still, Hyper-V has been mostly a series of press releases and a concept for many customers and partners -- until today.

As of today, Hyper-V is out there. Microsoft officially released its competitor to VMware ESX today, sending partners into a virtual(ization) frenzy. In all seriousness, though, Microsoft partners are talking about the opportunities that Hyper-V will provide -- and about its advantages over ESX, the runaway market leader from VMware.

There's another four-letter word (other than "hype," that is) that's important here: free. Hyper-V comes built into Windows Server 2008, meaning that clients have already bought it when they pay for a Windows Server 2008 license. And that's a big selling point over VMware, one partner told RCPU.

"It's an easy sell because it's included and it's free," said Rand Morimoto, president and CEO of Convergent Computing. "If you compare Hyper-V to VMware, they're identical."

That's another thing. Functionality-wise, Morimoto said, customers won't lose anything in transitioning from ESX to Hyper-V, or in just implementing Hyper-V, period. But that transition might still prove to be a hard sell. VMware, after all, produces a popular set of products and has a presence in nearly every big company in the world -- and in a lot of smaller ones, too.

Morimoto, who also sells VMware as well as working with Microsoft, isn't out to change that, necessarily: "The position that we have is that we have a lot of customers that are running VMware," Morimoto said. "We're providing customers the option. If a customer puts a foot down and says, 'We're a VMware shop,' we're not going to try to change them."

However, he wants to consult his clients as to how they might save money down the road by transitioning to Hyper-V. Morimoto suggests a hybrid environment -- or possibly a slow transition from VMware to what he called the more cost-effective (read: free with Windows Server 2008) Hyper-V.

"We're not asking you to throw [VMware] away, but we're saying think twice about continuing to invest," he said. "Depreciate initial investment [in VMware], and everything after that is free." And for shops with no virtualization at present, Morimoto said that Hyper-V is an obvious choice.

For his part, Zane Adam, senior director of virtualization in the System Center group at Microsoft, explained to RCPU that Hyper-V is just one part -- albeit the core -- of Microsoft's overall virtualization strategy. "We have solutions from the datacenter all the way to the desktop," Adam said.

Well, we're sure you do, and we'll get to all that -- along with VMware's side of things -- one of these days. But for our purposes today, Hyper-V's release represents Microsoft's first serious shot over VMware's bow. And despite the (continued) hype it's sure to get now that it's out, we don't expect VMware to shut its doors, nor do we anticipate that the extremely popular virtualization vendor will stand still. After all, VMware is still the monster in the virtualization space, and Microsoft is the minnow.

Still, the Windows Server-Hyper-V bundle could be powerful. We can see where Morimoto and the Microsoft folks are coming from with that message. After all, the whole "better together" thing has worked for Microsoft before and is still at the core of the company's very successful enterprise strategy. So, bring on Hyper-V, we say...and bring on even more hype.

Do you have any experience with Hyper-V? Tell us at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 06/26/2008 at 1:22 PM


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