This post is also available in: Italian

I’ve read some posts (see in the bottom of this post for the references) and I notice how the  hypervisor comparison and choosing criteria are still a interesting trend and not only a marketing battle between different vendors (and maybe there will be more interest will be on this aspects with the release of Windows Server 8).

But in several cases the comparison is limited to the hypervisor technical characteristics (and I’ve already written something about Hyper-V 3.0, XenServer 6.0 and RHEV 3.0) without considering (except in some cases) that the those are only one of the possible choice criteria.

One interesting criteria (described also in the Italian post) is related with the knowledge and skill levels and/or the level of “standardization” (or better of “fidelity”). In fact, in most of the cases where I found Hyper-V two of the most frequently criteria were the previous described, and usually they where before the economical factor (referred at only the license part).

But the main criteria probably still remain the maturity level (related also with the “innovation” level). In this case the Garner Magic Quadrand for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure (2011) place VMware, Microsoft and Citrix all in the leader quadrant (of course is not clear if the scale is linear or logarithmic…).

In all the post that I’ve read is missing an analysis of the real market share, probably too complicated to be defined in a clear an realist way. If you look at previous reports, like the ‘IDC Worldwide Quarterly Server Virtualization Tracker for Q4 2009 the conclusions are quite “silly” (XenServer grows almost 300%, Hyper-V grows over 200% says IDC), but they were related to a specific time period (ad grow from really small number could be simple and faster, but keep the trend in the future could be really more difficult). Actually is clear that VMware is still the number one with a great market share (Has VMware won the Hypervisor war? … and who cares anyway…).

From the second place could be difficult be sure on each position, but I notice that in the Italian market the order is Hyper-V and then XenServer (penalized also from the common strategies between Microsoft and Citrix, called V-Alliance).

But the order could change if we do not considering only the production environment of some specific vertical segments, like for example the virtual hosting area, where a lot of OpenSource and free solutions are used (and in some cases SLA are not define at all…) or also other virtualization techniques are used (not based on system virtualization).

It’s curios how the two historical competitors of VMware with a good technical potentiality (IMHO) are victim of a hara-kiri from their vendor: Virtual-Iron was really interesting (before Oracle acquisition) and Citrix XenServer has been partially diminished (in the V-Alliance strategy the main hypervisor platform is Hyper-V).

What is clear is that VMware is still a leader not only for the hypervisor part: today a hypervisor is just a facility (or is really near to be a facility), but the main difference is the rest of the virtual infrastructure, the management part, the monitoring part, the data protection solutions, the automation level, … In those part VMware is still some years (or at least several months) ahead.

But something is changing and, for example, the ecosystems are moving also to other hypervisors (Virtualization ecosystem is becoming multi-hypervisor). And this could be another way to measure the popularity of other hypersivors.

To close this post, there is another point that wasn’t consider at all: the competition is usually good, at least for the users, because push some pressure on the vendor the make better products, and also who is a leader need to improve his solutions and sells them to a reasonable price (let’s compare the features and the price of an Essential+ bundle with the price of an similar configuration with Virtual Infrastructure 3.x!). In this battle could be nice have at least a solution that is based on free software or at least OpenSource, but actually in the virtualization the main competitors have proprietary solutions (to be honest I do not see big fault in this  situation where is more important have a competition to avoid a monopolist position and a potential lock-in risk).

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Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2381 Posts)

Virtualization & Cloud Architect. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). PernixPro 2014. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014. MVP 2014. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.