However, the question still remains: Can VMware hold off the challenges of Microsoft and Oracle, which are basically offering hypervisor technology for free? What about Citrix, which is revamping fees to lower the price of virtualization?
Microsoft is on the offensive because of the forthcoming upgrade to Hyper-V coming with Windows Server 8. New features put it "on par and in some ways better than VMware," according to Aidan Finn, a Microsoft IT consultant in Dublin, Ireland. He says Hyper-V outstrips VMware in inexpensive server-attached storage, aspects of live migration and failover for site-to-site disaster recovery. Plus, Hyper-V will have capacity access to more virtual CPUs than ever before.
Those improvements will be sure to add to the challenge that Microsoft is making against VMware. According to research firm IDC, Microsoft’s Hyper-V grew 62% last year, compared with VMware’s ESX's 21% growth and Citrix's 25%. Gartner is also predicting a big year for Microsoft. The research company projects that by next year Hyper-V will account for 27% of the market, up from 11% two years ago. Within that projected 27%, Gartner says, Microsoft will have captured 85% of all businesses with less than 1,000 employees that use virtual servers.
That yearly growth proves significant, especially when one considers that the number of X86 servers being converted to virtual servers is also growing dramatically. Gartner says x86 boxes will grow from 11 million virtual machines in 2009 to more than 55 million next year.
Meanwhile, Citrix, which Gartner projects will hold 6% of the market next year, is making strides working off its base of virtual desktop customers and recent assertions that it will drop prices to be less expensive than traditional physical desktops. Citrix’s latest, XenServer 6.0, is purported to support better sharing of CPUs among virtual machines and boosts its overall support for virtual CPUs to 16, with 128 Gbytes of virtual memory.
However, that's still less than half what VMware and Red Hat can support. Perhaps the company can challenge VMware with its continuing collaboration with Microsoft to support management of each other's virtual environments?