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VMware’s version of flexibility doesn’t include Microsoft Hyper-V

VMware promises new levels of flexibility in the data center with vSphere, its cloud operating system, but is still promoting vendor lock-in by refusing to support competing virtualization products.

Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager is capable of managing virtual machines created both with Microsoft's Hyper-V platform and VMware's ESX hypervisor. Despite the presence of Hyper-V and Citrix's XenServer, and the fact that many data centers use multiple virtualization products, VMware has consistently claimed that there is no market pressure for them to support competing hypervisors.

“We're taking the stance that, if and when there is a critical mass for something to be supported, we will support it,” says Bogomil Balkansky, VMware's vice president of product marketing.

VMware announced vSphere, the new version of its hypervisor and related management tools, promising the ability to aggregate large amounts of virtual resources into a centrally managed computing pool.

VMware's customers would rather the company spend time improving its own software than managing other hypervisors, Balkansky says. But VMware's parent company, EMC, has taken the opposite stance with Symmetrix V-Matrix, a new storage array designed for virtual data centers.

EMC has optimized V-Max for VMware's hypervisor and Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization software, though not for Citrix's XenServer. “We see right now that the majority of customer demand is for VMware and Microsoft,” explains Bob Wambach, senior director of Symmetrix marketing.

EMC can't afford to turn aside Microsoft, notes Laura DiDio, lead analyst with Information Technology Intelligence. Whether VMware should support Microsoft or other virtualization vendors is not so clear.

When asked if VMware supporting only its own hypervisor promotes vendor lock-in, DiDio said “of course.”

“That's a tricky tap dance all the vendors are playing,” she says. “They don't, in any way, shape or form, want to support other people's platforms. However, given that it's a buyer's market they can't appear to be too recalcitrant, because the customers will push back and say 'hey, you don't care about us.' They have to give lip service to it.”

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