The availability of Microsoft’s Hyper-V technology will mean that every business running Windows Server 2008 will be able to use virtualisation, without needing to purchase any additional software.
Admin staff simply tick a box when installing Windows, and the Microsoft Hypervisor is enabled. Clearly deploying virtual server environments is not that simple, but the fact that it is now part of the Windows OS means that many people can give it a go. And it is likely that more people will use virtualisation through Hyper-V to run several server applications on a single physical server – in other words, Hyper-V will make it easy for people to consolidate servers.
This makes Microsoft a dominant force in the hypervisor market, even though Hyper-V is only at version 1. It means VMWare will need to show people how to move beyond server consolidation with its ESX Server hypervisor – to enable workloads to move seamlessly between virtual machines.
VMWare will inevitably come under pressure but it is the market leader, with a mature sophisticated hypervisor geared towards serious enterprise deployments. I think the loser will be Citrix XenServer, which offers a cheaper alternative to ESX Server.
Citrix has spent years battling with Microsoft on the desktop where its MetaFrame product offers an up-market alternative to the Terminal Services software that ships with Windows Server. It looks like it will now be battling to retain users as Microsoft enters the hypervisor market. Some experts think Citrix will go back to its roots, and focus on desktop virtualisation, an emerging area of IT, closely related to the work Citrix has done with Metaframe