Microsoft targets virtualization with cheaper offering

Quoting from ComputerWorld:

VMware may have gotten a three-year head start on Microsoft with its server virtualization software. But Microsoft is aiming to make a splash based on price.
“We really want to be the most cost-effective solution where people are using virtual machines on Windows Server 2003,” said Eric Berg, a group product manager in Microsoft’s Windows and enterprise management division.

Berg said Microsoft evaluates customers’ needs based on workloads, focusing on three areas: software testing and development, legacy application rehosting and targeted production workloads, such as Active Directory domain controllers, networking and departmental applications.

“We have a lot of tools that will help them,” he said. “Virtual Server is just one tool.”

Berg said Microsoft has a Component Object Model application programming interface that can be used to create scripts to automatically deploy new server builds and “great integration” with its server management tools, so customers don’t have to buy a specific tool to manage both virtual machines and physical servers.

Tom Bittman, an analyst at Gartner Inc., predicted that VMware will keep 80% market share for the consolidation of servers to run production-ready applications. But he added that Gartner expects Virtual Server to command at least 50% of the market for test and development workloads by the end of 2005.

“The price differential is going to kill [VMware] unless they change it,” Bittman said.

Michael Mullany, vice president of marketing at VMware, which was acquired earlier this year by EMC Corp., said only that the company “always listens” to customers on pricing.

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said the underpinnings of what Microsoft is doing are different than what VMware is doing. He said Microsoft is using its Virtual Server technology to help customers running older stacks of applications on Windows NT 4 migrate to new hardware rather than continue to run them on separate machines.

Kusnetzky said VMware’s focus is to help users move to a highly virtualized environment “so they can tune what they do to their business needs” and assign IT resources as needed.