Hyper-V Live Migration for free, tough cookie for VMware

Today I was drawn to this blog post from Microsoft: Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Release Candidate! (Free Live Migration/HA Anyone?). This post confirmed what was expected, Microsoft will be offering Live Migration for free when Hyper-V v2 will be released. This will sureley put some pressure on VMware vSphere pricing or not?

If we compare solutions there are quite a number of differences in what is being offered. VMware vSphere is much more feature rich and is a more mature product. But… does that really count? Strange question? Well maybe from a technological point but not from a sales point. How often are you able to sell products based on TCO? Isn’t it just pricing that counts? People don’t buy on long term, there is a budget, the budget is for this year and what they buy has to fit in this years budget. Yes, their CEO told them to save money in the long term and they do want to be able to do the same things in less time and less cost, but they still don’t buy a product based on the return on investment that is “promised”, they rather take the quick win. Take a look at the small and medium and even the smaller large businesses (The biggest customer I have has arround 5000 users and now has almost 1000 VMs and 50 ESX hosts), do they really know their TCO? Do they know how much creating a Virtual Machine costs? Do they know how much time it takes to configure a new vSphere / Hyper-V host? In most cases they don’t. So, in my opinion, for a large group of customers, pricing will be a very important part and not the TCO.

When comparing features, you will see that VMware vSphere has quite a number of features compared to Hyper-V that look very interesting. For example I think VMware Fault Tolerant (VMware FT) is a great technique that could replace clustering as we know it, vShield and VMSafe also a great way of doing security in a virtual environment. But let’s face it, how many companies really need it now. For how many companies are these features a real selling point? Looking at my customer base, most of them are not ready to run firewalls virtual, heck I’m glad to see more and more SQL Servers running virtual and even that is not all too common yet and still takes quite a lot of talking to convince the admins and management. Most of them are not ready for all this great stuff yet. They will use it, in the near future, but not now. To make things worse, some of them have the “Microsoft, unless… ” policy which kills almost every discussion about new products. Luckily, when talking hypervisors Hyper-V and XEN aren’t even considered yet, but this is going to change when Hyper-V2 hits the streets.

VMware vSphere is heading for the clouds, large enterprise are in pace and follow VMware into the cloud. But please, don’t forget about those smaller businesses.

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  • Good post! I too am concerned about VMware’s SMB strategy. Microsoft’s post is a quick little box showing prices, it’s very hard for VMware to combat that at this time in the same amount of space when it comes to price. We could all go out and evangelize the value of VMware, but when it all just comes down to price (and the license stack), it’s very difficult to convince some people.

  • Tom

    I would pick Xen over Hyper-V any time.
    Management tools are included vs. charging a lot.
    Feature set is ahead of Hyper-V and catching up to ESX.
    Not everyone truly needs VMotion/Live Migration.
    ESX is quite over-priced for the SMB market and crippling vCenter to 3 hosts is not a good idea when Xen does more at the same price point…

  • Tony

    Tom, I am also XEN fan at the moment, but would you agree that going with Hyper-V is much more future-proof direction. Today, I would choose XEN over free ESXi without a shadow of doubt. But as soon as R2 hits the shelves, I will most likely start recommending my customers to go with Hyper-V instead.

  • Couldn’t agree more Gabe, there is going to be no getting away from this one in the SMB market, especially for people who already have existing Microsoft infrastructures and licensing/support contracts, it would be silly of them not to at least look at Hyper-V when they are throwing it at you.

    VMware’s feature set can not be beat but as you said, do the smaller businesses really need this ?

  • Great post Gabrie, I couldn’t agree more!

    Experts, consultants, techies like us who know the technical possibilities and reliability of VI/vSphere can hardly understand why anyone should choose anything else but that’s because it’s our expertise.

    vSphere might outperform and “outfeature” products like Hyper-V and XenServer, but I think max 10% of the potential customer base really needs this performance or feature-set to improve their business.

    By the way don’t forget that you still pay for SCVMM with Hyper-V when you wan’t to fully manage you’re Hyper-V environment.

  • SCVMM is needed for FULL management. For Live Migration it is not needed, but I do agree that you surely make life a lot more simpeler :-)

  • Brian

    There are plenty of vmware options for the SMB space:

    ESXi = free
    vSphere essentials = $995 for 3 physical servers, includes vCenter
    vSphere Essentials Plus = $3000 for 3 physical servers, includes vmotion, HA, vCenter

  • Brian,

    As far as I know there is no vMotion in vSphere Essentials Plus. Only HA and Data Recovery (backup).

    Gabe,

    My Opinion on Hyper-V? I’m still convinced that, VMware has the best consolidation ration, over Hyper-V at least.

    For SMB market, I think that live migration, it’s not as important as HA (high availability). HA restarts the VM on another host if one physical host fails. Live Migration does not do anything automaticaly. The admin has to initiate the migration…

  • @Vladan: Hasn’t been VMotion the “killer” feature that VMware has and Hyper-V hadn’t? Didn’t we all laugh at Hyper-V for not having it?

    I think that for small organisations, it does have quite some added value, since that admin that normally stayed a few hours after closing time to fix problems, can now do this during office time.

    Gabrie

  • But it does make a different when you will need to manage 5 instead of three hosts… It’s about TCO, and unfortunately not many people get that.

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  • dd

    FT is nothing to do with service fault tolerance it's only about the VM but what appends with the Oracle inside the VM, in FT both instances will fail in case of troubles. (only 1VP, lack of performance, etc)

    With R2 you will have a lot of new features quick storage migration, processor compatibility core parking, CSV, IO and network redirection, etc.

    Consolidation ratio is increased with 64 cores and 1Tb sopported in R2.

  • dd

    FT is nothing to do with service fault tolerance it's only about the VM but what appends with the Oracle inside the VM, in FT both instances will fail in case of troubles. (only 1VP, lack of performance, etc)

    With R2 you will have a lot of new features quick storage migration, processor compatibility core parking, CSV, IO and network redirection, etc.

    Consolidation ratio is increased with 64 cores and 1Tb sopported in R2.

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