CIOs seem to love VMware over Hyper-V

Posted by Microsoft Subnet editor Julie Bort: Yesterday, I spoke at the Colorado IT Symposium in Denver. With about 200 CIOs and IT executives from the region in attendance, one message I heard over and over again was a proclaimed love for VMware. Not a single person I spoke to throughout the day was using Hyper-V.

The usual reasons were offered -- that VMware blows Hyper-V away when it comes to management tools. Only two CIOs I talked to had really looked seriously at Hyper-V at all -- had run it through its paces in the lab. One liked it but thought it would be another two years before its management tools had caught up with VMware to be attractive. However, another said the he had independently verified in his lab that that VMware uses memory better. This is a long standing marketing argument from Microsoft whose marketing folks say that VMware's ability to over commit memory is not a big deal. CIOs and other VMware users disagree and say the reverse is true. Since Hyper-V cannot over commit memory, it requires more memory resources. And that's a deal breaker.

Another issue that was discussed was VM sprawl. One CIO said his company reigned it in by creating a checklist of criteria for approving VMs. He created a model for determining how much each VM costs to provision and maintain. It was used for budgets, not charge backs. Whenever a business requested a new VM, the IT department would go to the finance department for an increase in budget. In this way, businesses requesting new VMs would have to justify to the purse holders. IT was not stuck in the middle as the bad guy -- or stuck approving and paying for VMs that may not be necessary.

Frustration against Microsoft was generally running high. One attendee asked at a panel session if anyone had any luck in renegotiating Enterprise Agreement licenses with Microsoft. Another said that he had, do the the soft economy, but wouldn't offer details as to how good a deal he got. He did say that the way to do so is to get serious. Threatening to move to Linux and OpenOffice.org won't work. Before you talk, he advised, really put yourself in a position where you are prepared to make the switch should Microsoft not give you the price that you want.

Desktop virtualization and thin clients was also a hot topic. The general consensus was that everyone wants to do it -- would have done it yesterday -- but licensing costs, for Microsoft products in particular, make it too expensive. Not many companies were ready to ditch Microsoft applications whole hog and go with an alternative like the Sun Ray, but a few are already testing the idea. This will become a hot topic for IT organizations as they contemplate Windows 7.

Overall, the theme in 2009 is consolidation and simplification. Companies are trying to reduce the number of servers they own, physical and virtual, reduce the number of applications and reduce the costs associated with paying and maintaining apps. This is part of the breathing in and out of IT. Massive expansion and growth is followed by consolidation is followed by expansion. But the next major expansion will still have virtualization at the center. Companies want to more easily be able to spin up and spin back down clients, servers, apps and storage.

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