Microsoft has not updated its support policy covering the use of third-party virtualisation products since October 2005. The company’s support policy is as follows:
Microsoft does not test or support Microsoft software running in conjunction with non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software. For Microsoft customers who do not have a Premier-level support agreement, Microsoft will require the issue to be reproduced independently from the non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software. 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 in conjunction with non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software.
Frankly this is poor customer service. Virtualisation is regarded as the evolution of data centre computing, enabling server consolidation and increasing server utilisation. As I have noted in a previous blog post, companies like IBM and Oracle do not recognise soft partitioning, so you end up paying for all processors on the physical server, irrespective of how many are being run by your application.
Now Microsoft is basically saying it does not recognise third-party virtualisation software. Users must reproduce a problem on physical hardware. Does this look like a veiled attempt by Microsoft to coerce users into buying its own Virtual Server product (which incidentally is fully supported), possibly against the spirit of fair competition?
For a virtual server to be treated the same way as physical hardware, it needs to be certified, just as Dell, IBM and HP machines are certified for Windows Server. As far as I know, Microsoft doesn’t make hardware servers, so why should it regard virtual servers any different.