Microsoft's Hyper-V over-hyped, says competition

Hyper-V, Microsoft's first virtualisation release launched last Friday, has met with stiff criticism from competitors over its lack of functionality but is still likely to broaden the market, they say.

The virtualisation component was originally expected to ship with the new server release earlier this year, but announced its delayed release within 180 days of the Windows Server 2008's release to manufacture (RTM). In lauding the fact it had met this latest deadline, Microsoft also said 1.5 million copies of the beta had already been downloaded.

Overall, analysts and competing vendors like VMware, Parrallels, Virtual Iron and Citrix's XenServer have welcomed Microsoft's entrance to the market, saying it will help commoditise the technology.

But two market leaders were also quick to point out that Hyper-V lacks functionality Microsoft had originally promised, which they say is key to basic, reliable virtualised infrastructures.

As the overall market leader with an 85 per cent share, VMware was quick to point to Hyper-V's pared down functionality and, in particular, the absence of any live migration capabilities that are key to disaster recovery and business continuity plans.

Reza Malekzadeh, VMware director of products and marketing for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said: "Hyper-V is comparable to our first generation product and offers little more than basic partitioning capabilities.

"An example is that Hyper-V has no function comparable to VMware's VMotion technology, which allows a running virtual machine to move between physical hosts without downtime or interruption. VMware customers find this tried and tested technology integral to their IT operations, as it allows very flexible business continuity and disaster recovery."

Serguei Beloussov, Parallels chief executive, didn't see Hyper-V as a threat to its delivery of operating system (OS) level server virtualisation through its Parallels Virtuozzo Containers. But he admitted: "By offering a bundled [Windows Server 2008] solution, Microsoft is reaching a wider audience of potential virtualisation users, but the breadth of deployments will still be fairly narrow: Windows environments that are currently reaching their upgrade cycle."

Beloussov also pointed to missing features: "There is no live migration, which is fairly basic entry-level requirement for virtualisation adopters. Platform support is also key and there's a big deficit here, with no support provided for Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS, FreeBSD."

But Microsoft has pointed to its System Centre Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2008, which is now in beta, to help IT organisations configure and deploy their Microsoft-based virtualised environments.

Beloussov added: "While users will need to pay for System Centre VMM to use Hyper-V, it is still going to undercut the other established hypervisor tools, potentially representing a very serious threat for those companies."

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.