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.