Hypervisor wins war while skirmishes continue

VMware, Citrix / Xensource, Microsoft Hyper-V, Red Hat / Xensource and others are slogging it out to be the virtualization product of choice. Some losers, like Oracle VM, seem pretty obvious right now. And the Linux Kernel Virtual Mode wants to join the battle to become the dominant hypervisor.

While the selection of winners and losers is far from over, I say the larger war has been won without even a shot having been fired. The winner? The hypervisor. And in second place, your operating system of choice.

What most miss about all the virtualization battles is that the choice of hypervisor will become dominant over the choice of operating system. Before virtualization, which operating system you chose to use was the primary concern. Linux? That sets you down one technology path. Windows? Another path. While those choices are still valid ones, the choice of which hypervisor technology to use is of primary concern.

Why has this happened? First, the choice of hypervisor determines the capabilities you'll build your data center, operations center and operating environment around. Hypervisor technologies are more than just emulating server hardware in software.

Technologies like VMware include the ability to perform load balancing, rollover to hot standby virtual instances, spin up new virtual servers to handle increasing loads, and communication protocols for inter-virtual server communications and coordination. It's too soon to have standards across virtualization vendors, so each are implementing these capabilities as best suits them or differentiates them from other vendors. IT organizations aren't going to want to manage three, four, or even more ways of handling all these scenarios and more. They will want to standardize.

Users are already clamoring for more management tools in virtual environments. Network World readers are also sharing their views on managing virtual environments. Each technology has its capabilities and wrinkles.

Selecting a hypervisor of choice means creating processes, laying out operational procedures, building skill sets, and creating IT knowledge about running and operating virtual environments. Doing this for every hypervisor on the market today doesn't make sense. Organizations will standardize just a few hypervisors, not use all of them.

So move over operating systems. Hypervisor is now the number one choice.

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