Well, evidently I caused a stir with my recent blog post questioning whether VMware has ceded the SMB to Microsoft Hyper-V.  The VMware author was quick to strongly critique my post, so let me take a minute to set straight the record straight.

Today, the VMware platform is undoubtedly more mature and robust than Hyper-V. Heck, we even ran a webcast last week with Tech Republic’s Scott Lowe that compared VMware and Hyper-V that I thought offered a very fair comparison that favored VMware in many, if not most, areas. There are definitely a lot of questions around how much Microsoft will close the functionality gap with Hyper-V 3.0, but since it’s not shipping until at least later this year, I’ll reserve my comments on that until another time.

The statistics about market share used in my earlier post were from an article by Tim Greene published in Network World back in November entitled “Virtualization wars: VMware vs. Hyper-V vs. XenServer vs. KVM,” where the author says the following:

This flurry of improvements is in addition to progress Hyper-V has been making against ESX in licenses issued. Hyper-V grew 62% last year compared to ESX's 21% growth and Citrix's 25%, according to IDC. Separately, Gartner projects that by next year Hyper-V will account for 27% of the market, up from 11% two years ago. Within that projected 27%, Gartner says Microsoft will have captured 85% of all businesses with less than 1,000 employees that use virtual servers.

I’ve asked Mr. Greene via email to provide a citation for the stats above, and will update here when/if I receive it. Even if Mr. Greene misquoted Gartner, it’s not a big secret that Microsoft has had strong penetration into SMBs with Hyper-V and that their overall market share is growing. This has been a topic of discussion for years (e.g.: a post from the average blogger in 2010, a PC World post from 2009). The price of “free” often just resonates better with IT shops of this size.

The VMware Essentials kits are great, but from everything I can see, they’re not applicable to environments of more than three physical servers or six sockets. This is fine for very small businesses, but probably won’t meet the needs of many medium-sized organizations. These larger-than-very-small organizations will have to move up to higher-priced VMware products in order to get the functionality they need, but many will not need or want to pay for the most advanced features that VMware offers. So, a lot of these folks are at least considering Hyper-V as a lower-cost alternative. Every business will have to buy a Microsoft Windows Server license for their virtual environment. Since this Windows Server license includes Hyper-V with features like Live Migration for no additional cost, a lot of them choose to forego licensing separate virtualization software.

Again, these are just observations. SolarWinds doesn’t develop its own hypervisor (we just manage virtual environments), so we don’t have a horse in this race. We’ve got tons of customers of all sizes happily using both Hyper-V and VMware, some in mixed-hypervisor environments. We probably have an equal number on either side that have some angst with their hypervisor. To that end, we’ve made versions of our FREE VM Monitor tool for both VMware and Hyper-V. We think the market is big enough for at least two hypervisors!