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If there is nothing we like more in IT, it is religious wars. Our passion for technology often comes out in odd ways, resulting in aggressive stances on technology choices.

Let me list some of the jihads we seem to find ways to debate. PC vs. Mac. Open source vs. proprietary. Android vs. iPhone.  Cloud vs. on-premise.  Linux vs. insert-operating system here. We love these debates. Technologists are intensely passionate about these too, going to great lengths to defend their beliefs.

And in virtualization, we have one that rages strongly now. VMWare vs. Microsoft.   Bloggers, Tweets, and whole discussions rage about this topic, and it has fanatics on both sides of the aisle.

What intrigues me most about this is that the majority of the focus in this debate is over the hypervisor, debating to use VMWare’s or Microsoft’s to run your virtualization platform.  

This is focusing at the wrong level of the discussion. First off, both are great hypervisors, and both virtualize systems well. And, like good technologies that are finding their way, your first hit is free. Both companies give away their hypervisor to get started. The free offerings are just right to get you started, but not enough to help the bottom line of either company.

The cost comes in for the management tools and advanced features, as both companies offer paid feature sets.  VMware’s vCenter Server or Microsoft’s System Center add advanced capabilities, but come at a price that isn’t “free as in beer.” Each come with different certification requirements, different hardware support, and line of business applications support each differently.

This is where the rubber really meets the road in terms of the technical difference. Neither ends up being the right solution every time for every customer – which is something you find in just about every one of these religious debates.

More importantly is the IT team’s ability to support it. Which partner relationship is better? How will your team get trained, and what will they be able to support long term? Which offering aligns with your own business, and which partner will enabe you to grow that business? Choosing a vendor partner is much more than technology. As technology people, we focus entirely too much on the bits and the bytes rather than the business enablement. Refocusing on what drives your business rather than the pure technology will make sure you make a smart choice.

Finally, pick one. Don’t align with every vendor in the space. The best you can do for your customers is going deep and smart, not wide and “capable.” By investing in a smaller subset, you’ll be better at them all. There may be a lot of hypervisors out there, but if you try to learn them all, you’ll be master of none.


Dave Sobel is the founder and CEO of Evolve Technologies, a consulting firm that provides information technology (IT) and computer networking services to the small business, faith-based and nonprofit communities in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Evolve Technologies provides a wide array of services including server installation, virus protection, network security, backup services, and complete information technology outsourcing. The first Microsoft Small Business Specialist located in the Washington, D.C. area, Evolve Technologies is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.