Scott’s post on multiple hypervisor’s got me thinking…

Regardless of workload (server, VDI, DR, Test/Dev) I myself only really see one hypervisor out there… VMware. I think so many companies have built their operational policies, processes and procedures around ESX that it is going to be an incredibly difficult migration to something else. I know of one of my customers that is running Citrix XenServer in a XenDesktop environment. Unfortunately, they are unhappy with the solution and there is talk of plans to move to an ESX based XenDesktop solution. I also know of a single customer running Microsoft Hyper-V Server. However, it is not in production or Test/Dev; it’s more of a tinkering environment and an excuse to play with Hyper-V.

Why are customers slow to move to other hypervisors? I think there are a couple other compelling reasons for customers to stick with VMware.

  1. Almost all of my customers are well past 80% virtualized, making it much more difficult to back out and change direction given the investment that they already have.
  2. Almost all of my customers are using other VMware products like Site Recovery Manager and vCloud Director, which utilize VMware’s ESX hypervisor at their core.
  3. VMware has become “comfort food” for IT Professionals, stable, comfortable to use and familiar.

I think these three reasons alone are pretty compelling in terms of the effort (equals money) required to either introduce or replace a VMware Hypervisor environment.

With other customers that I’ve spoken to, another problem for competing hypervisors like XenServer, KVM and Hyper-V, is the price. The free, or near free price seems to subliminally  highlight the difference in feature set when compared to VMware; whether rational or not. Take into account the various State and Local EDucation (SLED) discounts, it’s almost impractical for SLED customers to not deploy VMware and the various VMware applications with the gargantuan feature set.. This, I believe, is the key component for VMware.

As for desktop virtualization aka end-user virtualization; VMware seems to keep holding ground as well. Hypervisors like XenServer and KVM are not widely supported by mainstream monitoring and management platforms (SolarWinds, EM7, etc.). Hyper-V is just recently supported by XenDesktop and is definitely not supported by VMware View. Not to mention, when purchasing View, it’s pretty advantageous to purchase View Premier as your entitled to ESX Enterprise Plus. Not only is that a great deal, but pretty much seals the Hypervisor market share for VMware View.

So that being said, what are you seeing in the general public?

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Eric Sarakaitis

Virtualization Engineer at CBTS
I'm Eric, I love to cook, sing, garden and enjoy cold beverages!


  1. Sean Masters says:

    The handful of businesses out there that I’ve worked with, who were using Hyper-V or XenServer, switched to VMware as fast as their budgets allowed. The only reason for any of them not being on VMware up front was cost. Once revenues grew they switched over.

    The other handful of businesses out there that I’ve worked with who have even considered alternative platforms were only doing so for Dev / R&D purposes, i.e. areas where budgets are extremely tight and money can’t go to infrastructure.

    It should be noted, too, that I’ve met numerous businesses who were using the standalone and free VMware hypervisor both out of budget constraints and due to wanting to stick with VMware due to the number of techs out there who know it.

    This says nothing about the products themselves, which I’m not commenting on, just perception by those businesses I’ve interacted with, consulted with, etc.

  2. Scott Bowling says:

    As I promised… :)

    You are correct. VMware is today’s virtualization but what about in the next 2 or 3 years. Microsoft generally gets it right and HyperV is now version 3. Many organizations are moving forward with System Center to manage their workstation fleet. It is logical to try it out to manage servers. HyperV is not a threat today but it will be.

    80% virtualized should not mean lock-in at all. IaaS should mean flexibility. The ability to migrate a VM from physical to physical host or to a public service is what IaaS solutions are all about. Saying a VM is locked in because it runs on a vSphere foundation is not sound.

    I agree about SRM not sure how many vCloud Director implementations have been successful because of process implementations

    It is human nature to be comfortable with the known. Innovation is about being uncomfortable.

    And my final pet peeve what about the VMware Desktop virtualization SKU. You are not required to purchase View Premier. The Desktop SKU is designed to host XenDesktop VM’s on vSphere.

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