9 reasons why the whole Hyper-V vs ESX debate is a waste of time

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Tracking the virtualization industry for more than six years (virtualization.info was launched in September 2003) has been a challenging, time-consuming and sometimes tiring task. But there always are fun moments.

The best ones come from the never ending skirmish between VMware and Microsoft marketing departments (and their allies), that in turn highlight the negative aspects of the competitor.
The VMware solution is too expensive and doesn’t manage anything but the virtual infrastructure, says Microsoft.
The Microsoft solution is not mature enough, it’s full of bugs (because it comes from Windows) and has hidden costs too, says VMware.

The effect that this exercise has on customers has been brilliantly summarized by Scott Adams in one of his recent Dilbert strips:


Reporting about new “evidence” that proves or disproves each others’ points doesn’t add much value to the discussion and virtualization.info tries to avoid doing so as much as possible.

Anyway, let’s make an exception this time, because it’s 2010 since 30 days and we didn’t get any pointless debate yet for the new year. And because it’s worth showing that old habits die hard even when it’s clear that they provide no results.

At the end of 2009 Information Week published an article titled 9 Reasons Enterprises Shouldn’t Switch to Hyper-V. Written by Elias Khnaser, Practice Manager, Virtualization & Cloud Computing at Artemis Technology, it contains a lot of criticism about Hyper-V memory management, security, live migration, maturity, cost and more.
Microsoft answered back in early January with Setting the Record Straight – 9 Reasons Why Hyper-V is a Great Choice for Enterprises, where Christopher Steffen, Principal Technical Architect at Kroll Factual Data, answered each point.
Of course this answer provoked a reaction, which will provoke another reaction and so on, forever.

Now, there’s a big chance that even after reading both articles (and subsequent reactions) you won’t change your opinion about both products if you already have one, or you are more confused than ever if you didn’t have one.
The reason is not just that for each claim there’s a counter-claim that balances the previous. It is also that such claims are completely ineffective to win the trust of a reader.

Everybody knows in fact that a person usually knows the product that he uses the most better. Unless you work with ESX and Hyper-V on daily basis, while they serve the same workloads in the same environment, and you have the same level of training to operate both platforms, your perception may be different about the two.
On top of that, everybody knows that people have the natural inclination to prefer something over something else. And this depends on a certain background or a previous experience that compromised the perception of a product or its manufacturer.
Last but not least everybody knows that it’s a common practice to secure testimonials by trading some unrelated benefits, like volume discounts, free licenses, extended support, public exposure, and more with the customer. That doesn’t mean that every case study is faked, and this certainly is not a reference to Microsoft and Kroll Factual Data. It just means that readers have no way to know what claim is genuine and what has been “encouraged,” thus they cannot trust anything.

The only real way to verify which product is the best one for a company is to run pilots and compare solutions on real-world duties. It is expensive and it is time consuming, but it definitively provides more concrete information than the debate above.