Limitations Won't Dampen Hyper-V

Thursday was Hyper-V "hyperventilate day" as everyone reported about Hyper-V's release. I'm sure Windows Server 2008 machines all over the world will be downloading Hyper-V via Windows Update come the 2nd week in July. You can manually download Hyper-V until then. I'm excited to start working with the final bits on my servers as well, something I'll be doing after finishing this blog post. Much has also been made about the features Hyper-V doesn't yet have that are needed to compete with VMware, Citrix, and other Xen-based products. True, Hyper-V doesn't yet have things like live migration, all the management capabilities put in Microsoft System Center yet, and isn't detachable from Windows Server 2008. All that said, Microsoft has made some important decisions about bringing Hyper-V to market which I think will bode well for Hyper-V now and in the future.  

As someone who creates products for a living, I've both been ahead of the competition and behind them in market as well. When you are a late comer to a market, like Hyper-V is to VMware and Xen, often the feeling is you must reach feature equilibrium as fast as possible. The thought is "we've got to catch up." I'm the first one to say it's always a great advantage to get to market quickly enough so you can set the rules for the competition, much like VMware has for virtualization. But when you are playing catchup, you've also got to take care not to part company from the fundamentals of creating great products either.

Microsoft's had to make some tough decisions about how to bring Hyper-V to market. That includes leaving behind some features, like dropping live migration until a later release, and bringing out the standalone Hyper-V separately from this week's Windows Server 2008 version. Those decisions have labeled Hyper-V as both lacking features and as virtualization technology that drags Windows Server along with it. But what Microsoft has sacrificed in features, they have made up for in getting Hyper-V to market quickly and doing so at a reasonably good, maybe even very high, level of product quality.

My hats off to Microsoft for taking the high road on this. A feature ladened, yet buggy Hyper-V product would be relegated to IT labs, never to make it into production use, and considered software that's not ready for prime time. Microsoft haters and competitors would be jumping all over Microsoft's case, proclaiming Hyper-V as more of the same; buggy, immature software that the arrogant folks in Redmond are forcing on customers. But delivering a good quality product to market, and doing it while beating Microsoft's own 180-day post-Windows Server 2008 release commitment, shows Microsoft is serious about snatching up more of their share of the virtualization market. Hyper-V doesn't have everything, but it does look to be a very solid 1.0 release, software that can be taken to production in the appropriate situations. 

Pushing hard to get more features in products is always a double-edged sword. Quality is the first thing to suffer, followed by product deadlines. It can be an easy trap to fall into, the "customers won't buy our product unless it has [blah...]" syndrome. But it can be all too easy to do so such that product quality is sacrificed to too great an extent. My experience is that the best sales people are always pushing for new capabilities to help sell like everyone else, but when push comes to shove, they'll take a lesser product that's solid and works for customers, over one with all the bells and whistles that's buggy and unstable, and reflects poorly on them and the company.

Expect VMware and others to tout all the deficiencies in Hyper-V to try and limit its impact. I also expect to see some good success stories about Hyper-V based on the quality of the beta and RC software I've seen leading up to this week's public release.

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