There’s no doubt that VMware is still the top virtualization player, but the upcoming Q4 2008 will highlight in a crystal clear way that it’s no more the only player available.
The landscape is being reshaped by several major vendors trying to erode the VMware leadership with different strategies:
- Citrix is targeting the enterprises with a comprehensive product portfolio for application delivery and highly specific features: the Xen-based hypervisor (XenServer), the management layer (XenCenter), the desktop and application virtualization platform (XenApp), the VDI broker (XenDesktop) and much more.
- Microsoft just started targeting its SMB customer base with competitive pricing, extended support policies, massive interoperability agreements and an impressive number of converging products: its new hypervisor (Hyper-V), its new application virtualization and streaming platform (App-V), the upcoming new management layer (SCVMM 2008), the backup layer (DPM 2007), the performance monitoring layer (SCOM 2007) and more.
- Novell is including new products in its portfolio to extend its capability to sell virtualization outside the Linux world: a new high-performance virtualization platform based on the Xen hypervisor, P2V migration and capacity planning tools (acquired by PlateSpin) integrated with its ZENworks management layer, and a brand new application virtualization platform (offered through the OEM agreement with Xenocode).
- Oracle is recalling its own customer base with a strict support policy and a new, free of charge hypervisor based on Xen: Oracle VM.
- Parallels is working to release its first bare-metal hypervisor, strongly focusing on the Apple market and on the hosting segment, where it has a real leadership.
- Red Hat just found a unique opportunity to conquer an important side of the market, switching from Xen to KVM and buying the valuable VDI startup Qumranet.
- Sun is about to put on the table the most complete computing stack for virtualization, from servers and storage to hypervisor (xVM Server) and management (Ops Center), passing through VDI (Sun VDI).
- Virtual Iron continues to focus on the SMB market with a high quality virtual infrastructure and key new features.
While it is the smallest vendor in this list but also the one of the most experienced. Acquiring its Xen-based hypervisor may represent the last cheap opportunity to enter the virtualization market for a big firm (IBM, HP, Dell, Symantec, Quest and few others).