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Virty market share race reaches the bend and heeeeere comes Oracle

Gartner says users want VMware alternatives for the 40% of non-virtual workloads

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Think virtualisation and it's hard not to think VMware. And Microsoft, which Gartner's vice president and distinguished analyst Thomas Bittman yesterday said has around 19 or 20 per cent of the market, compared to VMware's 75 per cent or so.

Oracle, Parallels, Citrix and Red Hat scrap over the rest of the market, but Bittman thinks there's perhaps more upside for Oracle than others.

One reason is that Oracle is now better at virtualisation.

“Oracle VM 3 improved a lot,” Bittman said at the analyst outfit's IT Infrastructure Operations and Data Centre Summit in Sydney. “They are not close to Microsoft or VMware, but it is pretty good if you are not trying to do dramatic things like moving virtual machines around.”

A second reason Bittman feels Oracle may surge is that only about 60 per cent of virtualisation-worthy workloads have been subjected to the tender embrace of a hypervisor. Of the remainder, plenty are Oracle workloads, thanks in part to the Big O's position of not supporting its applications being virtualised, but not forbidding it either.

Bittman said plenty of Oracle workloads are top-tier mission-critical applications that users have, to date, been wary of virtualising. But with the technique now nicely mature and Oracle's virty software improved, they're now candidates for the move and could give Larryland's virtualisation products a boost.

VMware may also unwittingly help Oracle – and Microsoft - to gain market share, because Bittman feels users are increasingly wary of the company's need to turn its core virtualisation wares into a cash cow and therefore seek out a second vendor to gain some leverage and save some cash.

“Microsoft's fundamental issue is that they are seven years too late and allowed VMware to have a free run at this market for a long time,” Bittman said. VMware took advantage of that to dominate the market, and was able to do so despite its high price.

Windows Server 2012, Bittman said, “now matches up pretty darn well with VMware.” That's not enough to displace VMware at sites where it's present, but Bittman said most large organisations have more than one hypervisor.

That's often happened by accident, but Bittman said “a year ago we saw this happen strategically.” Microsoft is nearly always the alternative, but others have a chance too.

RedHat has a particular opportunity, he said, as its virtualisation products have done very poorly and there are plenty of Linux workloads waiting to be taken virtual. Parallels can't be discounted, although its low profile with ISVs may be worrisome for users. Citrix needs to show it is not just a desktop virtualisation specialist.

“VMware has had seven years to set a price based on capex savings,” Bittman said. “Now there is real competition and they are being forced to change pricing models. Expect more pricing shifts.” ®

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