Microsoft continues Hyper-V growth, catching up to VMware

We learned a lot at MMS 2013 last week, but the one theme that Microsoft was constantly bringing forth was the fact that Hyper-V is now the dominant virtualization platform from a technology perspective, and the company best known for Windows has set its sights on taking over the market share lead. Although we’re still awaiting formal numbers from IDC, we were told that VMware peaked at roughly 54% of the market and is in a slow decline, while Hyper Microsoft’s Hyper-V is at roughly 30% and has been recently increasing a percentage point every quarter.

What’s causing this shift? We sat down with Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of program management in Microsoft's Windows Server and System Center Group, and asked him his thoughts on this topic. While he agreed that cost was a factor, with Hyper-V coming in 1/6th less than a comparable VMware setup, he said that was only a minor reason why many organizations were switching away from VMware, such as:

  • Better scale: Hyper-V supports up to 320 logical processors and 4TB of RAM per server
  • Larger VMs: Can run 64 virtual processors and 1 TB of RAM and 64TB disks (with up to 255 disks ) per virtual machine
  • Bigger clusters: Supports up to 64 nodes and 8,000 VMs in a single cluster, twice what VMware offers

Also gone are some of the annoying idiosyncrasies and bugs inherent in the 2008 release of the hypervisor. With the latest release, Microsoft has built a solid virtualization platform. Jeff Woolsey, principal manager for server and cloud at Microsoft, said, “This is the release where we blow past VMware and they need to catch up with us.”

Dominos pizza was brought up as a company that is extremely happy with Hyper-V. Each of the 5,000 stores in the United States installed two physical servers running Hyper-V that run the point-of-sale system for the company. With no local IT staff at the stores, the company is able to manage these 10,000 servers with only two sysadmins by harnessing the power of System Center. This is critical because over one third of orders come over the Internet, sales that would be lost without a stable infrastructure.

Xerox was another customer that had high praise for Hyper-V. The number one frustration with the development team in India was the time difference between the support center in the United States. By building up a Hyper-V cluster in India, the development team is now able to build up platforms to replicate errors that their customers are seeing in order to quickly fix bugs in the code. A process that used to take days or weeks can now be solved in hours, and the company has seen no differences between VMware and Hyper-V, although they still use the former for their production environment.

Despite the positive buzz about the platform, almost everyone we talked to at the conference still said that they were going to be staying with VMware in the near future. Although many people were excited to demo the latest release, nobody was willing to convert within the next year or two.

What are you using at your office? Are you firmly in the VMware camp? Are you actively running Hyper-V in your organization? Or are you taking a “wait and see” approach with Microsoft’s hypervisor? We'd love to hear your experiences!

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