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Microsoft Gives Away More Free Stuff

Microsoft has further ratcheted up the price pressure on VMware, giving away some high-end functionality in Hyper-V Server 2008.

Zane Adam, senior director of virtualization and System Center, announced on a blog that Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 will include not only live migration, but host clustering (up to 16 nodes) for high availability. Hyper-V Server is the free, stand-alone version of Hyper-V; you don't need to buy Windows Server 2008 to get it.

This move has echoes of Citrix' recent decision to make XenServer free. It was the first time a feature as critical and advanced as live migration (Xen's version is called XenMotion) was given away; now Microsoft has upped the ante and added HA capabilities to the mix.

Compare that to the new suite of product offerings with vSphere. The lowest level that will get you HA features is Essentials Plus, at $1,000 per (dual-proc) server. If you want HA and VMotion, be prepared to shell out almost $4,500 per server, as both capabilities aren't available below the Advanced tier. Hmmm. HA and live migration for free, vs. HA and live migration for $4,500 per server. So having it on three servers sets you back nearly $13,500. Seems to me there's a strong value proposition there for Microsoft.

VMware would no doubt point out that it's the most enterprise-ready virtualization solution, something Virtualization Review columnist Chris Wolf has dionstrated. Again, however, the question is one of value: is your shop one that can get along without some of VMware's features in order to save thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars? That's a question only you and your CIO can answer. Riiber also that live migration and HA are available right now for ESX and XenServer. You'll have to wait until next year to get Hyper-V Server R2, unless you like beta testing.

One thing that's beyond doubt, though, is that customers now have more price points -- all the way down to free -- and options than ever. As VMware continues to push the envelope of technology, Microsoft and Citrix expand the boundaries of value. I'd say that we, the customers, are the big winners here.

Posted by Keith Ward on 04/24/2009 at 12:48 PM


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