Networking's greatest debates in the Data Center

All time classic debates include Mac Vs PC, Tape storage vs. disk storage and AMD vs. Intel

VMware vs. Xen vs. Microsoft

VMware owns the lion's share of the virtualization market in terms of both revenue (the company's revenue doubled in 2006 to $709 million from the year before) and mindshare (the company's annual user show in San Francisco this year recently drew 10,000 supporters) . To ice it off, the company also had a huge IPO this summer.

Yet open source Xen, which doesn't even make the single digits on any analyst's set of predictions, and its commercial instantiation XenSource may still have a chance in the corporate market. And don't overlook Microsoft's Windows Server Virtualization offering either. Read the latest WhitePaper - Storage Consolidation: Overcoming Inhibitors to Simple and Effective Data Management in Small and Medium Enterprises

"Both have been talking up their plans and efforts for months, as well as their proposed superiority over competing solutions - namely VMware. In 2007, customers will finally be able to tell for themselves," says Charles King, analyst at Pund-IT Research.

VMware has been around longer than Xen. VMware was first released in 1999 as VMware Workstation; Xen was developed in 2003 and made available as an open source project. The products are similar in that they are both funded by largely successful companies - EMC, which acquired VMware in 2003, and Citrix, which acquired XenSource.

VMware has been so successful that nearly 80 independent software and hardware companies have partnered with it and developed products that work with it. But XenSource isn't all that far behind, with 63 partners squired in its short existence.

"Xen won't have the maturity of VMware in 2007, but it might be a cheaper alternative, if that's a major consideration," Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata, told Network World earlier this year.

Not to be counted out in this virtualization battle is Microsoft. Its Windows Server Virtualization - a.k.a. Viridian -- technology is set to ship with Windows Server 2009. Although the Windows product commands only 7% of the market now, when it ships you can expect companies to add it to their arsenals quickly because well, Microsoft is Microsoft. -Deni Connor

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