Existing Customers Gravitate to Microsoft Hyper-V

Microsoft appears potentially well-suited to win users of its Hyper-V virtualization software from among its existing customers, judging from comments of attendees at the company's virtualization launch party in Bellevue, Washington, on Monday.

Amazon.com is one company testing out Hyper-V. So far, the company is running two virtual servers, one as a test bed and one in use, said Joe Stewart, hardware developer at Amazon.com, speaking from the show floor.

While he did look at virtualization software from other providers including VMware, he has settled on Hyper-V in part because he has found that, generally, software works best when running on software made by the same vendor. Since Amazon.com relies heavily on Microsoft, Hyper V is likely to work the best, he said.

However, he also said that VMware seemed to be more memory-intensive than Hyper-V.

Ultimately, Stewart aims to reduce the number of servers at each Amazon.com location around the globe from 10 to 50 servers down to one. "Even five would be a cost savings. The power [savings] alone would be awesome," he said.

Amazon.com hopes to move out of test mode into deployments next year, he said.

Worktank, a Seattle advertising firm, is another heavy Microsoft user likely to choose Hyper-V over its competition largely based on compatibility. "We're a Microsoft shop," said Jonathan Blue, network operations manager at Worktank. "And we do a lot of work with Microsoft." While Worktank doesn't feel pigeonholed into using only Microsoft software, it makes sense because of ease of use, he said.

The agency has 30 small servers running a variety of applications. Around five of them are "doing almost nothing," he said. Worktank hopes to become far more efficient in managing its server infrastructure through virtualization, he said.

Talx, a provider of human-resources and payroll services and an early Hyper V test user, also gravitated to Hyper-V because of its existing relationship with the software provider. "We're a Microsoft platform," said Bryan Garcia, vice president of technology for Talx, which is based in St. Louis. Choosing Microsoft virtualization software made for an efficient learning curve, he said.

Plus, "if there's a problem, we have one organization to hold accountable," he said.

Talx was using around 50 servers before it started using Hyper-V and is now down to 15 servers running around 80 virtual servers, he said.

Even customers who embraced VMware have gone back to Microsoft for desktop or application virtualization. Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG rolled out VMware four years ago, though it is mostly a Microsoft and SAP shop, according to CIO Michael Neff.

But the US$6 billion manufacturer of printing presses reduced the number of applications on its employee desktops, scattered in 196 countries worldwide, to 500 from 21,000 using Microsoft's App-V.

About 100 of those apps are streamed directly from Heidelberger's servers in Germany using App-V and Systems Center, said Neff, while the rest are packages that are deployed and installed via Systems Center.

Heidelberger is "playing with" Windows 2008 and considering using Hyper-V for some future server virtualization rollouts, Neff said. But the firm won't migrate existing VMware installations to Hyper-V unless it would produce 30 percent savings over three years, which is "very hard to show," he said.

Microsoft is among other companies, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, making announcements in the run-up to VMware's annual conference, starting next week.

(Eric Lai is a Computerworld reporter.)

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