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VMware vs. Microsoft - is Microsoft leading the race?

(Posted on behalf of Akshay Sharma)

The race to lead the virtualization and private cloud space has been a close finish between two industry stalwarts - Microsoft and VMware.

But with the launch of Windows Server 2012, Microsoft seems to have stolen a lead over VMware - or has it?

Microsoft launched Windows Server 2012 last year and is positioning it as a cloud operating system. Windows Server 2012, with Hyper-V 3.0 and System Center 2012 put together is an impressive package that seems to have given Microsoft a significant lead on their strategy in the cloud space.

As organizations seek to deploy private clouds, one of the key requirements is to ensure there is a sufficiently large storage and computing power available in the form of servers and storage systems. To be cost effective, they require large virtual servers and virtual storage that can be easily added or removed with minimal disruptions.

In response to these challenges, Microsoft's Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V 3.0 brings a wide collection of features and capabilities. It has built-in storage virtualization which lets the user configure storage into a single elastic and efficient storage pool. It also provides high availability for applications by setting up failover systems within the datacenter or at a remote location. With the new Hyper-V, it is possible to virtualize extensive workloads, with support for up to 64 virtual processors per virtual machine (VM) and up to 4TB of memory per host.

However, VMware, the original kingpin of the virtualization space, has the vCloud Suite 5.1 - complete with all the requisite cloud characteristics. With their new offering, they are working towards pooling industry standard hardware and then running each layer of the datacenter as software-defined services. vSphere 5.1, the VMware core hypervisor is packed with new features like live migration with shared storage and supports virtual machines that are double the size of already existing ones.

Talk about a knockout round!

In addition to the computing and storage power, organizations also require the necessary datacenter management tools that are capable of managing heterogeneous virtualized platforms.
With System Center 2012, Microsoft provides a common toolset to manage infrastructure and applications across private, hosted, and public clouds. It offers comprehensive management of applications, services, physical resources, hypervisors, software defined networks, configuration, and automation in a single offering. It can also manage heterogeneous virtualized environments.

Not one to be left behind, VMware has also started experimenting with heterogeneous virtualized management using vCenter. With the release of vCenter 5.1, they claim to start managing Microsoft' Hyper-V via vCenter using some add-ons! Also, with vCloud Director 5.1, up to 30,000 virtual machines and associated resources can be created. Though vCloud does not automate every piece of datacenter management it can increase the speed and efficiency of management.

VMware leads the virtualization market with almost 80% of the virtualized workload running on it. They are specialists in the realm of managing virtual machines and automating data center operations. Microsoft is still trying to provide a good product in these domains.
Conversely, Microsoft seems to have taken a leap over VMWare with their Private Cloud strategy posing a challenge for VMWare. While VMware are market leaders in virtualization and data center automation, Microsoft may just manage to sneak up on them using their Private Cloud offerings.

Only time can tell what is to come next.

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