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Despite ongoing innovation by seated virtualization giant VMware, Microsoft continues to match core hypervisor features while competing strongly on price. No surprise, then, that Hyper-V is gaining market share. But I must confess that I'm a bit disappointed in Redmond's performance, in light of its track record for mercilessly crushing the competition, even in established markets where it previously held no competency.
It seems to me that Microsoft is not effectively applying its tried-and-true formula for seizing dominance. And that's a problem for IT, because the lack of a single industry-standard hypervisor platform is hurting the market from a standards and interoperability perspective.
Sure, competition is healthy; it drives down prices and fosters innovation. However, where server virtualization is concerned, how much innovation do we really need? VMware may have more or less invented the business-class server hypervisor, but Microsoft always wins these battles in the end. And honestly, isn't that a good thing? Businesses get a tolerable product that takes a ton of effort to keep running but is relatively inexpensive, so they can spend on expertise. Vendors get a standard platform on which to build and develop. Equipment manufacturers get a standard OEM hypervisor to deploy. And on a more personal front, we IT pros get excellent job security and the privilege of paying for expensive outsourced single-vendor technical support conducted in broken English. Not only that, but it's nice to have only one product to support, am I right? All these different hypervisors fragment staff expertise by requiring skilled professionals to handle different systems. When people ask IT about products Microsoft has killed (remember WordPerfect?) our response is simple: No one uses that, why should I know it well enough to support it? You're on your own, user!
So where has Microsoft fallen down on the job? Let's take a look at the formula and see why VMware is still around.
First, Microsoft enters into a lucrative market with established players by producing a copycat product and pricing it aggressively. Check. Second, it slipstreams the new offering into the Windows product line so that it's "built in." Check. Then it leverages seated market partners to make sure it's in everyone's face as soon as a piece of equipment is powered on. OK, so no failure here. These things Microsoft has done with Hyper-V. It's a robust clone of ESX server, it's aggressively underpriced, it's a part of server operating systems from the word go, and all the major vendors are offering licensing deals on it.
But the coup de grace elements of Microsoft's strategy are strangely missing. Where is the slur marketeering and propaganda campaign? The dirty licensing tactics? The aggressive litigation?
In point of fact, Microsoft is suing all sorts of people in a flurry of new cases centered on the mobile device market, patent infringement in the public cloud, and the Xbox gaming platform. Yet I don't see a single active lawsuit against EMC designed to undermine VMware's market dominance. And while Microsoft has been advertising Hyper-V and the latest iteration of Windows Server aggressively, I am not seeing the mudslinging that I've come to know and love from Redmond.
Finally, while Hyper-V is less expensive than the alternatives, Microsoft is hardly giving it away, as it's done in intense battles of the past. Come on, Microsoft! Without an effective anti-VMware propaganda campaign, how can you expect to continue to gain market share in the face of a product that still has an edge in both innovation and functionality? EMC is certainly not sitting still and waiting for your strategy to overwhelm it, so how can you expect to crush the opposition when you're not even applying all the gizmos in your tool chest to the problem?
Can someone tell me where Gates is? I think we need him back.