There's a lot at stake here. I know we've said this before, but there's a battle going on for who owns the OS closest to the bare metal--the evolution of the hypervisor, if you will. Case in point: as an IT purchaser I'm about to push through a PO for few hundred thousand in new equipment. Three years ago those servers would have all been bought with either RedHat, Novell, or Windows 200x licenses on/with them. Today? All of them will be purchased with VMware Vi3(ESX) licenses. Sure, they will eventually run one of those OSs in a virtual machine (VM) ... but the software license bought with the hardware now comes from VMware.
That's a shift.
VMware is starting to get more flexible in its prices; ESX was a straight $5k per license a few years back (MSRP), and now [VMware has] a range from $1k-$5750. That's good for us IT consumers, and I think it's due in part to current and pending competition (mention Xen in the same meeting with a VMware salesperson and see what happens!).
My take away: consumers will (do?) have virtualization options.
If you assume that to be true, then the next question is: Do these virtualization players need to play together? What kind of cross-vendor functionality am I to expect from my virtualization suppliers? Enterprise IT will say yes, but then we're right on path to the whole standards vs. "value-adding" discussion. (Embrace and extend, anyone?)
More on VMWare/Microsoft War of Words
In our news analysis section, we detail sparring by VMWare and Microsoft over the future of virtualization. Software licensing is going to have to change in the age of virtualization. Who's got it right, Microsoft or its upstart rivals? Our tech editors analyze the situation with some surprising results. Read on...