back to article Microsoft aims at VMware with System Center 2012

Microsoft is taking the fight to VMware with a new release candidate of Systems Center 2012 which includes a new pricing structure and eight management tools that run on a unified interface. Ever humble, Microsoft is billing it as the future of private cloud systems. System Center 2012 comes in two flavors – standard and data …


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Well, just another unabashed, disgusting money grab a' la MS...

...when they bundle all their useless crap together and suddenly using Virtual Machine Manager costs almost 3x more: VMM 2008 Workgroup Edition (good up to 5 physical hosts) is around $400-$500 but now you will have to buy all their bugfest System Center junk for ~$1,300-1400 evben if you don't want to use anything other than VMM 2012...

...which might be also a bad idea as aside of stgupid and nnoying, lame bugs (yes, in the RC) it reeks from the typical, completely idiotic, awful-looking and, most importantly, functionally broken Microsoft UI: left menu here which opens into new page+another left menu+right pane items & options, which are to be right-click-then-ciick-then-submenu-then-clicked...

...wait, there is a toolbar on the top with all sorts of clickable icons ...

...ohhh WAIIIIT, the toolbar has TABS TOO...


...just dowright mind-boggling.

Seriously: what kind of uber-incompetent blind idiots approve these super-shitty, totally incoherent junk interface designs?

Ahh, did I mention it's worse than horrible at communicating errors in the job window? Just downright useless and, of course, stuff that takes few steps and works in Failover Cluster Manager here takes gazillion steps and completely incompatible with FCM. Go figure which idiot didn't talk to the toher department...

Microsoft, the archetype of destructive corporate contra-selection at work.

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Yes. What's your point?

Perhaps the comparison is wrong. Perhaps the title should read "Microsoft aims at VirtualBox [...]"

With Oracle in charge, it's only a matter of time untill MS' offering matches of exceeds what is now Oracle VirtualBox' offering. If they can get the pricing right, and fix the teething problems, they do have some room for growth here I think. Of course they will have to work hard to match VMWare's offering; my guess is that they won't even try: they'll pull the same old integration trick and sell it as a bundle. It might just work. VMWare stuff is very good indeed, but a tad expensive when extreme speed is not the main need. VirtualBox used to be an "almost as good" alternative. With Larry E. in charge, sorry, but not anymore.

As far as I am concerned, everything VirtualBox had on VMWare just went "poof" when Oracle bought Sun -although I am not a Sun apologist by any stretch of the imagination. Now VirtualBox is just a slower, dumber, less reliable "competitor". I already switched my non-speed-sensitive VMs to qemu (easier than you would think) and the speed-sensitive ones might just go to MS (being an old geezer, I do hate it when MS come out as the good guys; whatever).


This actually made me laugh out loud

I'm still chuckling and giggling as I type this.

Poor MS, they *still* cling desperately to the belief that with their awful amateur programming and complete lack of understanding of anything surrounding performance and security, they can enter and hold onto something in the Server market.

No they can't, and they never will before they disappear and become a gadget company (by the end of this year) and then split up (by the end of next year).

HyperV and....actually I dont care. All their server stuff is just an utter waste of anyone's time and money getting involved in. HyperV was extremely embarassing to use and ditching it was about the only smart thing the company in question (that I was consulting to) did.

There are only 3 virtualization competitors.

VMWare - who jumped the shark and just priced themselves out of the market.

Citrix Xen - the Novell one is a complete mess but it may catch up. Citrix's Xen offering is probably going to take over the world actually. Xen is cheap, has a very stable and scrutinizable codebase, does all the virtualization basics that everyone else pretends are features (in case you hadnt noticed yet, Dumb PHB Management is NOT trendy anymore....), and has some great tools. Plus its API is very good so for Xen there will be more tools in the future. Citrix seem to be doing quite a good job of getting behind and around Xen without compromising its FOSS components.

IBM's KVM - this is up in the air at the moment. The deep nerds involved swear that it is the most 'hardcore' virtualization solution around. Given IBM's long track record with virtualization, KVM being supported by them does promise some interesting futurism, so let's see.

This article is unintentional comedy, it really is :D


You can't back that up

they disappear and become a gadget company (by the end of this year) and then split up (by the end of next year).

Please share the model you developed to produce that gem of a prediction.

The table found here :

shows a record net revenue of over 23 billion. Doesn't seem like MS is on the brink of collapse.


VMware ESXi has a free version for Labs and the SMB

VMware ESXi is fast and they have a free version.

VMware ESXi is simple compared to this complicated mess from MS.

VMware ESXi is fast and stable.

We have VMware in the Enterprise and are happy with it and the cost is manageable. Why switch? Why should we change? If I am happy with the iPhone why try a Windows Phone? The reason we ditch products is because they suck, MS-DOS, Win9x? This is very clear in that Windows XP still is a viable OS for many users....


If You Want if all for Free

Then it's probably not too worrying to MS (or any other company) who gets your business. If you're happy with ESXi, then that's swell, stick with it.


"VMware ESXi is fast and they have a free version."

So does MS (the Hyper-V Server is completely free, and not crippled as free ESXi), and according to our own real-world testing, Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 beats ESXi 5.0 in many scenarios performance-wise.

It's really unfortunate that VMWare for some reason sees the need to strictly regulate the publication of benchmark test results for their own products.

"VMware ESXi is simple compared to this complicated mess from MS."

Yeah, sure. Simple like the mess that is required to hanlde large local storage because ESXi up to 4.x is unable to deal with LUNs >2TB (2TB minus 512bytes to be precise), something which is just a snap in Hyper-V Server. They finally fixed it in 5.0, though.

ESXi is only easy if you don't do much with it, and has it's own share of problems of which many can be really annoying. Hyper-V Server is not much different, it's easy if you have some basic Windows Server knowledge, but at the end of the day, both platform require a certain knowledge level to be used adequately.

"VMware ESXi is fast and stable."

As is Hyper-V Server.

"We have VMware in the Enterprise and are happy with it"

Great for you. We use both but increasingly use Hyper-V Server over ESXi.

"and the cost is manageable. Why switch?"

Well, one reason might be VMWare's creative pricing which only seems to go one way and that is up. The second set might be features, while the current Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (based on Hyper-V 2.0) lacks some of the neat features that ESXi offers, Hyper-V 3.0 will very likely change the game quite a bit.

"Why should we change? If I am happy with the iPhone why try a Windows Phone?"

Yeah, why extend one's own intellectual horizon? One needs to be really careful or one might actually learn something new when looking over the fence.

Such an attitude is very disappointing, especially for someone who (my guess) works in the IT sector.

"The reason we ditch products is because they suck, MS-DOS, Win9x? This is very clear in that Windows XP still is a viable OS for many users...."

Yeah, well, you might have a second thought about how relevant your 'knowledge' about a >15 year old DOS based Windows variant is when it comes to modern Windows Server variants, Hyper-V or even just WindowsNT (which is what all newer Windows versions are dreived from) really is. And since with your own words "why cnage" it's pretty clear that while you may know ESXi very well that apparently you probably don't know much about Hyper-V.

ESXi's strength is its wide support of various guest operating systems, which is great if you're using a heterogenous environment. If most of your stuff is on Windows, though, Hyper-V becomes a viable alternative.


You need Microsoft more than they need you

I wonder what % of VM OS's globally run on VMware? Probably a very high percentage are Windows. So VMware fan boys, you need Microsoft more than they need you.....


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They could be onto something here...

Ever since I've moved to Windows 7 professional I've also started using MS' "Virtual PC". Simply because it came "with the package"; every Professional user is entitled to install "Windows XP mode" which is basically a combination of a Microsoft Virtual PC version bundled with an ISO which contains a version of Windows XP professional.

I have to say that the implementation was pretty impressive in my opinion. Not perfect, never implied it was, but it does an amazing job. What I like most is the easy integration; both environments can share their desktop, and you also can easily access the host from within the virtual client (if you set this up of course). And obviously it supports common aspects such as snapshots, suspending the VM, and networking (NAT, gateway, or private subnet).

What is also a very welcome feature for me is that the VM can "publish" software. So; if I install a program in the VM it will also appear in my main Windows 7 start menu. I've really came to appreciate this one; if I have software which I need temporarily (say for a project) I nowadays simply install this onto the VM so it doesn't affect my Windows environment, and the moment I no longer need it I simply roll back the snapshot I made (so it also doesn't pollute my VM).

As said it isn't perfect.. Being the geek I am I also tried if I could get my OS/2 versions to work (I have both 'Warp Connect' & 'Merlin', even kept the boxes they came in) but that won't work anymore because Virtual PC doesn't support floppies any longer. And when trying out a previous version (which I could easily pick up using my TechNet subscription) I discovered that the software isn't so flexible that you can use 2 versions side by side.

And its picky... Obviously I keep a virtual Linux environment around but the only distribution I can easily install is Debian. Every other distro (Ubuntu, CentOS, even SuSE) fails. Never bothered to try and debug this btw.

But, when looking back at my experience I'd say that Microsoft may very well come up with something interesting here. Using virtualization is something even Windows can't be left without since it provides a lot of advantages, even for home users IMO. And to me they showed that while they may not get things immediately right in the first attempt (I've also read the horror stories about previous Virtual PC versions) eventually they /do/ evolve and make things better.

I think server usage could easily benefit here. One advantage over the competition should be obvious: Windows update. Having seen this put to use myself I have to admit that updating your software like that (this even applies to Office & other stuff like virtual pc) is a lot easier than having to re-install and making sure all the install options are still the way you intended them.

Anonymous Coward

Understanding licencing is the key...

Most people that deploy Windows in a virtualised environment, whether VMware, Hyper-v, Xen or whatever, will use Microsoft ECI licencing model as it licenced per socket on the virtualisation host for unlimited instances. The thing with ECI is that it also includes all the rights to use the whole system center suite on those VMs. This is when it starts looking really attractive. Having spent the second half of last year reviewing private cloud solutions I am confident that the suite provides a comphrehensive platform at a fraction of the cost of it competitor. This is due to the fact that if you want equivilent functionality in the VMware world you need to buy vCentre, plus vCloud director, plus vOps manager etc and all of these ancillary products are licenced per vM - this gets far more expensive as you scale. As Mcirosoft licence per socket you are rewarded with better economies of scale.

If the Microsoft solution is 'good enough' which for most IT shops I suggest it will be, then why pay many multiples more or something broadly equivilent? Start looking at Windows 8 Server Hyper-v and microsoft look to take a clear lead on the functionality front too. I have no beef with VMware, we currently deploy it and hosts hundreds of VMs on it. However the cost is prohibitative and in the current climate I'd rather move to Microsoft that invest further in VMware for a product where the value aspect is diminishing.

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Judge it in 9 months...

Its nice to see Microsoft finally taking steps to unify the functionality and deployment of the system centre toolset. All those RC's and Beta's are no doubt there in anticipation of Server8 being finalised.

As it stands, my VMware Enterprise plus licencing (without any Ops Director type bolton) costs me more over a 2 year cycle than the hefty hardware it runs on. I'm paying a fraction of this every month for my Windows DC per socket licencing via SPLA anyway, and SPLA costs for the System centre suite are similarly minimal.

I'm certainly keen to see how Hyper-V3 and the rest of the Server8 Ecosystem performs - key additions like a proper virtual switch, port aggregation, thin provisioning etc mean Hyper-V now meets or exceeds the requirements of most ESX deployments.

The vSphere management interface is very good but don't forget that system center is now little more than a GUI wrappers for a whole new batch of Powershell commandlets - I don't expect it to be long until third parties start producing superior GUI's built on that fact.

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Converting the VMWare?

As a small company, we paid a small fortune for our VMWare vSphere licences in 2009, after converting from a single Hyper-V server. I'd be interest in trialling the new Hyper-V, but if they do their usual, their will be no incentive to swap, they'll sting people for buying the products individually or simple price them out of reach of SMB's who may be tempted to convert..

Anonymous Coward

Dropped vmware ages ago

And moved to Hyper-V at the time of vsphere 4. The vmware sales droid walked in and basically tried to intimidate us into upgrading to esx4. He basically said we're the only game in town and here's a token discount. We showed this a**hole the door and now they call us regularly trying to get us back. We still have a few servers running esx 3.5, but everything since has been on Hyper-V R2 and later. Performance is great, damn easy to setup and unlimited Windows for a fraction of the cost.

When vsphere 5 was released we weren't suprised a bit that vmware again raised the prices. They still call us and we enjoy telling them to bugger off. With the new system center 2012 and the new hyper-v r3 coming, our decision looks better everyday.

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