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What's next with hypervisors?

John Dix | Dec. 14, 2011
The world of hypervisors is complicated by the fact that there are proprietary and open source tools.

Is it a given that large enterprises will end up with a bunch of hypervisors?

GILLEN: We see that happening today. In general, customers don't want to have three or four hypervisors, but we see them increasingly having more than one. Many customers that made early commitments to VMware, because it was in the market first, are adding other hypervisors around the periphery for workloads they feel are better suited for the alternate hypervisors. In other cases customers are looking at the possibility of a long-term move from one hypervisor product to another, so they begin to test and deploy another hypervisor and get some experience with it and see if it's going to work for them. As a general rule, I would argue that most customers don't want to have any more diversification than they absolutely have to.

KIM: I would echo a lot of what Al is saying, but for some customers the need for certain features on the management side will dictate the choice. Other times we see customers choosing a particular hypervisor based on their tolerance to risk and their desire to avoid lock-in with a proprietary vendor. And of course sometimes we see customers making their choice based on price or value, how much they think they can get for what they're paying. For example, some of the licensing we offer is appealing to customers because they can run an unlimited number of virtual guests with one server subscription.

GILLEN: I think that we should be clear that lock-in doesn't happen at the hypervisor layer. It may be true that the hypervisor stays as part of the lock-in, but from my point of view the lock-in is really happening at the management tools layer. If you've got a hypervisor running and you've got VMs running on top of it, in most cases you can migrate those VMs to another hypervisor pretty easily. It is the management tools you have to replace if you go from one vendor to another. Going forward I think we're going to find more and more hypervisor decisions being driven by the management tools people want to use.

JOLLANS: I think we're also going to see an evolution over time from the ability to manage multiple hypervisors to being able to manage the whole virtual machine portfolio from one pane of glass. So whether you're managing VMware or Xen or KVM, you want to be able to have a view of all the virtual machines in your enterprise.

VIRTUALIZATION WARS: VMware vs. Hyper-V vs. XenServer vs. KVM

How much of a problem will it be for a large enterprise to do business with a cloud provider that has implemented a different type of hypervisor than it uses in-house?


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