Sharing out Enterprises and SMBs virtualization market

Bob Roudebush wrote an interesting post about how the virtualization market is seeing the raise of large influence blocks.

I already wrote something about this evolution in The virtualization market towards monopoly? post.
I now would add some comments on Bob’s post, just focusing on the two biggest competitors.

First of all it’s mandatory to recognize what happens depending on target audience and target usage: enterprises and SMBs, production and development / test.

What enterprises choose today for production? Having no serious alternatives it’s quite evidente they are going for VMware ESX Server + VirtualCenter.

What SMBs prefer for production? Usually the cheapest solution. Here both Microsoft Virtual Server and upcoming VMware Server are valid choices being both free.

What enterprises choose for development / test? It’s likely they want to streamline the virtual machine usage lifecycle and respend existing know-how. At today only VMware can grant the same virtual machine to be re-used in every product of its offering. So having VMware in production would lead companies to prefer same virtualization vendor for all uses.

What SMBs choose for development / test? Small companies have less complex environments and a less rationalized use of virtualization. So decision more likely depends on solution price and capability to integrate with other adopted technologies. Being Microsoft a pervasive presence in the SMB market, today more than ever with Express product line, it’s easy Virtual Server is the product of choice.

Now, imagining for a moment Microsoft answer to VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3, Windows Server Virtualization and Virtual Machine Manager, is available today and is embedded for free inside every new Windows OS out there, we could see a neat scenario.

Even considering Microsoft WSV an enteprise-class high quality product for free, able to compete with ESX Server, companies already adopted VMware in production would hardly decide to break compatibility and adopt WSV for development. So the enteprise market is safe, at least at beginning, for VMware.

On the other side, SMBs suddenly find it’s usual operating system of preference, Windows, including an enterprise-class virtualization solution, available at no additional costs, working with all adopted technologies, from Active Directory to WSUS, from MOM to SMS, good enough to be used both in production and in development / test.

It’s easy to imagine Microsoft could grab the whole SMB market in no time, with a marketing message not focused on technical competition, but on something like our solution is already there.

Unfortunately for Microsoft they are still 2 years away from that opportunity, a time VMware can exploit for distributing its Server as much as possible, and urging small companies to extensively adopt it.

The faster VMware will move SMBs on its virtualization platform the stronger will be its position, making harder for Microsoft penetrating the market.
And while the Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge it’s a nice try in this direction, the best way to accelerate the process is to give away, for free, a valuable physical to virtual (P2V) solution.