Microsoft on the Virtualization Horizon

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Solution providers say VMware wins by a landslide when it comes to server virtualization, but the market for desktop virtualization is still wide open.

And even though he is a staunch VMware supporter, Baldwin has also monitored other virtualization technologies.  His company is interested in what Microsoft does with HyperV and has looked at Citrix's Xensource and at Virtual Iron in its labs.

"We've tried them and they have similar capabilities," he says. "But they have maybe 60 to 75 percent of the functionality VMware has. Why would you want to go to a client and offer them only three-quarters of what they need? If you've got a less expensive product but it only does three-quarters of the job, what's it going to cost them to do the other quarter of it?"

It's not just the big solution providers who are fans of VMware.  Smaller VARs who cater to the SMB space are lining up with VMware too. 

"We've looked at Citrix's Xen," said Sanchez, "But we haven't looked at it extensively. As a small player we've never been able to engage with them all that well.  I don't know if it's because they were concentrating on bigger badder businesses. But VMware is starting to look to guys like us and say 'we want to engage with you.'"

David Bennett's company, Connections for Business, focuses on serving SMBs with 10 to 100 seats, and has been a VMware partner for two years. 

"Historically we never felt like Citrix or VMware understood the SMB space," he says. "VMware considers a small deployment a company with 1,000-plus users."

That changed last fall when VMware rolled out its Foundation bundle promotion, allowing small businesses to get VMware SX for just under $1,000, according to Bennett.  "We are rolling out VMware in companies that are 20 to 30 users. Every server that went out my door last year had VMware on it."

As for Citrix's virtualization technology, Bennett says that his company is investigating new uses for it on the desktop, an area that most VARs say is still wide open to VMware competitors.

"We are vendor-agnostic from a client standpoint," says Mike Healey, CTO at GreenPages Technology Solutions, a Microsoft Gold Partner. "But VMware has an early lead in terms of stability of products and depth of offering. When you contrast that to Citrix, that company has a collection or aggregation of different virtualization technologies it has acquired."

For VARs looking to establish a virtualization practice, or choosing a vender for any technology, Healey recommends going with a company that has a solid product roadmap in place.  For example, he says, Windows 2000 was the core product that became Windows 2008 today.

"When you pick a technology, make sure it has the stability to grow with you over the next 5 to 7 years," Healey says. "Make sure the vendor has a roadmap that won't leave you behind."  

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com