Virtualization Wars: VMWare and Microsoft Battle Over Server, Cloud Dominance

By | Jul 3, 2012

Tensions in the war of the virtualization titans is escalating, both in marketing and in the marketplace, as Microsoft and VMWare compete for new server and cloud computing clients. While the battle is not new, the vigor and intensity are ratcheting up claims and counter arguments made in product marketing and campaigns, according to an InfoWorld article.

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Most computers do not need or use their full power to run software. Virtualizing is a technique that uses either software, hardware, or both to share and separate a single computer's processing power into multiple so-called virtual machines. The concept of time and resource sharing was developed in the 1950s to offset the then high cost of mainframe computing. When low-cost Windows and Unix machines gained popularity in the 1990s, they were promoted to servers as they achieved mainframe-like processing power. Applying the virtual machine concept to these servers became an attractive method to cut cost and "server sprawl," gain productivity, and improve flexibility. VMWare released its first product in the late 1990s, gaining rapid popularity with customers, and then EMC, who acquired the company in 2003. Microsoft followed the virtual machine software trend with the introduction of Hyper-V in 2008.

Why the Virtualization Battles Matter

At its essence, virtual techniques create several important business and technical benefits for midsize IT teams. The costs to design, build, operate, insure, and cool modern data centers make them among the largest expenses for square footage in a company. Virtualizing reduces the number of machines required for processing, thereby lowering cost, floor space, and energy and cooling requirements.

But it also provides other key benefits. It can reduce operational costs and management complexity. It can also provide the flexibility to move workloads during system outages or changing demand patterns, as well in cases of disaster recovery and business resilience scenarios.

VMWare and Microsoft are among the largest technology companies in the world. Both have large research budgets to continue to either develop desirable new features or acquire and integrate upstart companies that can add such value. Both can serve clients across the country and across the world. Both have a keen interest, as well as the ability and capacity to provide high-quality server-based and cloud-based solutions.

But they are not the sole choices for midsize company executives. IBM, HP, Oracle, and other companies provide virtualization offerings as well, and some of their products provide unique features not available on either VMWare or Microsoft.

Determining which product is the best for the servers, infrastructure, and applications of a midsize IT team is dependent on a number of factors. The Microsoft-VMWare skirmishes in both the server and cloud market spaces will be entertaining to watch as accusations fly and virtual punches are thrown. But once the technical bake-offs are complete, the true winners will be those midsize IT leaders who think carefully and choose wisely from the virtual machine offerings. The winners will be those who make choices and take actions that best help their companies to compete in rapidly changing business and technology landscapes.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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