“I’m a virt guy, it’s all I know.” VMlimited’s polyester wearing head salesman, Tad, proudly touts his shortsightedness as part of the extensive Microsoft advertising campaign mocking VMware. Tad warns about the “hidden bummers of going too far beyond virtualization” from highway billboards, banner ads, paid keyword searches, print ads, and the vmlimited site itself.
The premise that VMware is stuck in the virtualization past is nonsensical, but Microsoft may be striving for “cool” rather than reason. Perhaps the folks in Redmond are still smarting from the famous “I’m a Mac” campaign and consider VMlimited as their opportunity to play the hip underdog role this time around.
“Microsoft believes that, rather than undertaking a costly revolution, you should evolve your environment in a way that preserves and extends existing investments...”
The amusing irony of the VMlimited campaign is that Microsoft has always played catch-up to VMware. Its Palo Alto rival was pioneering Cloud solutions before the software giant could even spell virtualization – literally. “Virtulization” was featured in the title of its famous 2009 Myth Busters video.
Microsoft’s own virtualization site didn’t even mention Cloud as recently as three years ago. In contrast, VMware’s home page already emphasized Cloud as transforming IT. Then, as now, VMware’s site educated viewers on private clouds, public clouds, hybrid clouds, cloud security and management.
While VMware was promoting its cloud services and products, Microsoft was still struggling with basic virtualization vision: “At Microsoft, virtualization means helping IT departments maximize cost savings and improve business continuity.”
Perhaps most tellingly, in 2009 Microsoft was still advocating a cautious, evolutionary approach to virtualization – boasting that its solutions “address both physical and virtual infrastructure.” Conversely, VMware was encouraging 100% virtualization while emphasizing the ultimate end goal: “Virtualization is the essential catalyst for cloud computing”.
As recently as mid 2011, Microsoft still promoted virtualization as a feature of the operating system. It suggested these revolutionary virtualization use cases:
You can use Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 for the following scenarios:
- Test and Development
- Server Consolidation
- Branch Office Consolidation
- Hosted Desktop Virtualization (VDI)
- Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Home Page (July, 2011)
Microsoft marketing is nothing if not persistent. For over three years it has criticized VMware for the same two “weaknesses”: a supposed higher cost and the inability to manage multiple hypervisors.
Higher Cost: Microsoft has been relentless over the years in using its Web site, videos, white papers, etc. to loudly proclaim VMware costs more. Even its Private Cloud Economics Tool compares costs with VMware.
In a recent rebuttal, VMware makes a strong case not just for cost parity, but superiority. But the true value is not measured by deltas in licensing or even operating costs. VMware enables organizations to more easily, quickly and effectively embrace Cloud.
Managing Multiple Hypervisors: Tad’s antics perpetuate Microsoft’s tired refrain that System Center effectively manages vSphere. It does not. More importantly, it’s a bad idea to have multiple hypervisors to begin with from a unified data center objective. It’s an even worse idea if considering Cloud.
Lone Star College System – one of the nation’s largest community colleges with over 100,000 students – runs a very efficient vSphere-based private cloud with only two administrators. A recent internal analysis showed that adding Hyper-V would require a third administrator, making it unfeasable.
Cloud Industry Leadership
Microsoft swaggers as if it leads the Cloud industry, but its actions speak louder than words. The company’s continued refusal, for example, to grant Service Provider Licensing or allow multi-tenancy for virtual desktop Cloud providers severely restricts Desktop-as-a-Service.
Desktop guru, Brian Madden, recently relinquished his long-time Microsoft MVP declaring, “So that's it. Microsoft is screwing this entire industry with their asshole policies. I'm embarrassed that I supported them for so long. I just don't have the respect for them that I did in 2004.”
Microsoft’s private cloud messaging makes System Center 2012 appear to be a comprehensive system. But a proclamation does not a true solution make. All eight System Center components must be purchased, and once installed are not even aware of each other.
While Microsoft manufactures an extraordinary variety of products ranging from word processing to video games, VMware remains focused as “the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure.” Over 100 VMware vCloud service providers enable the world’s largest community of compatible public clouds, and 20,000 people attend VMworld, now one of the largest IT conferences.
Trash Talk in Lieu of Substance
Microsoft never bashed Lotus when it knocked off Lotus 1-2-3 with Excel. It didn’t bad-mouth Word Perfect when it took over word processing. It didn’t denigrate IBM as it supplanted Notes with Exchange. It never knocked Netscape, didn’t take potshots at Novell and didn’t sneer at Sony.
Rather than talk smack, Microsoft simply developed good products that quickly surpassed the market leaders. It has taken a very different tact against VMware, and the VMlimited campaign is its most extensive and expensive salvo yet. VMware nonetheless continues to dominate the industry and is a rapidly growing $4B business with no signs of slowing down.
The only other manufacturer that I can recall Microsoft publicly attacking is Apple – and that didn’t work out so well. While its I’m Not Cool Enough to be a Mac Person and Apple Tax campaigns are completely forgettable, the Steve Ballmer video scoffing at the iPhone remains a classic.
VMlimited is Microsoft’s attempt to ridicule VMware using humor. But the campaign underscores the company’s continued attempts to meet the high standards VMware sets. The folks in Palo Alto must be chuckling.
Whoops – got to run. My pager is going off.
Sorry Microsoft; Not Only Does vSphere Cost Less to Buy, It Also Costs Less to Operate. 05/16/2012. VMware.com.
VMware CTO reveals future directions in VMUG vid. 05/09/2012. Simon Sharwood. The Register.
4 Ways Microsoft is Screwing the Desktop Virtualization Industry, and Why I’m Quitting the MVP Program. 03/01/2012. Brian Madden. Brianmadden.com.
Microsoft Makes it Challenging for Cloud Providers to Host Virtual Desktops. 02/21/2012. Steve Kaplan. By The Bell.
The Multi-Hypervisor Fallacy. 02/25/2010. Steve Kaplan. By The Bell.
Is Hyper-V a Casualty of Microsoft’s Innovation Dearth? 02/11/2010. Steve Kaplan. By The Bell.
Don’t Believe Any Numbers You Don’t Make up Yourself. 06/03/2009. Steve Kaplan. By The Bell.
Microsoft Conjures Imaginary ‘Apple Tax’. 04/11/2009. Rick Myslewski. The Register.
Microsoft ad: I’m Just Not Cool Enough to be a Mac Person. 03/26/2009. Mary Jo Foley. ZDNet.
Author Disclaimer. The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and do not reflect those of my employer which is both a leading VMware and Microsoft partner.