Microsoft flaunts customer dumping VMware

But CH2M Hill's move from Hyper-V to VMware is not exactly as cut and dry as Microsoft's public relations department would like

Microsoft is still refusing to showcase Hyper-V at VMworld in protest of VMware rules that Microsoft believes are designed to limit competition, but that doesn't mean the Microsoft hype machine will abstain from anti-VMware marketing.

In advance of next week's VMworld, Microsoft is touting a customer that is implementing a long-term plan to replace VMware with Microsoft and claims the move will provide savings of $3.2 million in the next three to five years. The customer, CH2M Hill, is ranked just outside the Fortune 500 at No. 520 and has corporate headquarters in Colorado.

Microsoft vs. VMware: Who's better at disaster recovery?

VMware doesn't deny that the price of its virtualization software is higher than the competition's. But VMware has long argued that vSphere, its primary virtualization platform, and the related management tools are so efficient that the total cost of ownership is actually the best in the industry when measured on a per-virtual machine basis.

It is becoming harder for VMware to make that argument as competitors Citrix and Microsoft are acknowledged by analysts to be closing much of the gap in features and functionality.

VMware notes that every company in the Fortune 100 uses VMware, but the growing viability of alternative platforms has made it easier for customers to choose less expensive virtualization software. In many cases, they only do this for a subset of their virtualization deployment, and leave their most important virtualized applications on VMware-based hosts. That is precisely why Microsoft is touting the CH2M Hill story -- the customer is planning to dump VMware entirely.

"We're not seeing a problem putting anything we have on ESX into our Hyper-V deployment," CH2M Hill's Greg Barton, a senior analyst in charge of the company's virtualization project, says in an interview with Network World. Especially with new Hyper-V memory oversubscription features CH2M Hill is testing, Barton says "we're not seeing a huge difference in either product."

But CH2M Hill's move from Hyper-V to VMware is not exactly as cut and dry as Microsoft's public relations department would like.

Because of existing software licenses and maintenance contracts with VMware, and CH2M Hill's strategy to lease servers on a 3- to 4-year basis, Hill says the plan to switch from VMware to Hyper-V will take between three and five years.

"We have an investment with ESX. We're not going to just dump it right now. But we're going to augment and eventually move toward Hyper-V," with the end goal of getting rid of VMware entirely, Barton says. The main driver is cost: "This last couple of years haven't been great for the IT budget," he says.

Naturally, the project's extended time span could let CH2M Hill officials change their minds and scale back their Hyper-V plans. But Hill says VMware would have to make a pretty "compelling" move to make up for the difference in price, now that "the [Hyper-V] functionality is on par." Hyper-V is available either as a free stand-alone product or as part of Windows Server 2008 R2.

CH2M Hill used VMware to set up 350 virtual machines in its corporate data center on about a dozen physical Dell servers, and deployed another 100 VMware virtual machines in regional offices.

The Hyper-V deployment is limited to just six physical boxes so far but Barton says they'll expand that within the data center and deploy Hyper-V clusters in as many as 40 branch offices across the country.

Barton acknowledges that the Hyper-V deployment is fairly limited at the moment, but says the project will produce significant savings as CH2M Hill rolls virtualization out to the regional offices, which would have been more expensive with VMware.

"We're right in the beginning of it," he says.

CH2M Hill and Microsoft estimate that the customer will save $280,000 by avoiding further VMware licensing fees.

"Plus, we can now afford to tackle our 600 field servers and are aiming to virtualize 20 percent of these computers each year," Barton is quoted as saying in the Microsoft press release. "At $5,000 a server, that's a savings of $3 million over the next three to five years."

Barton expects management to be simplified by switching from VMware to Microsoft because CH2M Hill was already a Microsoft shop.

"The folks out in the field, they're all used to the look and feel of a Microsoft server," Barton said in his interview with Network World. "It's easier for them to get up to speed," and easier to set up a Hyper-V cluster from scratch.Applications slated to be placed in Hyper-V hosts include SharePoint, databases running SQL Server 2008, and Exchange Server 2010.

"It has to be a very needy machine to not go into virtualization at all," Barton says.

Barton won't be making the trip to VMworld in San Francisco, but Microsoft executives will be there in hopes of convincing more VMware customers to switch vendors.

Follow Jon Brodkin on Twitter:

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags MicrosoftVMwarevirtualisationData Centervirtualizationhardware systemsMicrosoft virtualization

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jon Brodkin

Network World
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?