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He's Got the 'Microsoft Support on VMware' Blues

A blog reader recently brought this Microsoft policy to our attention. It has to do with support for its products running in non-Microsoft virtualization software, e.g. Virtual Server 2005 and the upcoming Hyper-V. The key sentence is this:

"Microsoft does not test or support Microsoft software running together with non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software."

Sounds a little scary, doesn't it? So, if you have an Exchange server running on ESX, VMware's hypervisor, Microsoft won't help you when it stops working? To use the cliche, "What's up with that?!"

The comment from the reader is as follows: "M$ refusing to support anything running on VMware!" He, uh, isn't happy (you can always tell when someone is mad at Microsoft, because they use the dollar sign in place of the "s").

Well, the policy sounded a little harsh to me as well, although there's also a lot of language about the ways Microsoft will help, even if you're running on XenServer, Virtual Iron, other flavors of Xen, VMware, etc. It normally involves being able to reproduce the problem independently. Again, here's the techno-babble from the support doc:

"Where the issue is confirmed to be unrelated to the non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software, Microsoft will support its software in a manner that is consistent with support provided when that software is not running together with non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software."

After wading through that lilting prose, it seems to say that Microsoft will actually support its stuff -- to a degree. But I was a little confused, I must admit, since those statements seem somewhat contradictory. Thus I turned to my on-call guru, Chris Wolf, to get his analysis of what it all means. His response, reproduced in full, is enlightening:

"This isn't a big deal. Microsoft provides best effort support for VMware environments, which is similar to what other vendors do. Most vendors do not test their software on multiple hypervisors; it's too expensive to build and deliver such a test case, so testing on one hypervisor is usually the norm. For a software vendor to officially support anything, they have to either have a formal testing/validation program for the hypervisor/platform or have a formal support handoff agreement with the hypervisor/platform vendor.

Microsoft doesn't officially support their software on homegrown white box servers (since there's no formal testing/validation or support agreement in place), but people have been deploying such configurations for years.

Last week Microsoft announced their Virtualization Validation program, and VMware was conspicuously absent from the list. I talked to VMware about this and VMware is actively working on joining the program. So I think it's safe to expect and official VMware support agreement somewhere down the road."

In other words, Microsoft's support pretty much falls in line with the rest of the virtualization industry. And full support is on the horizon, which is good news for all you VMware admins out there.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/17/2008 at 12:48 PM


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