The June 9, 2010 Microsoft Virtualization Team Blog is titled, VMWare (sic) figures out that virtualization is an OS feature. The post makes a rather inexplicable, and clearly incorrect, argument that VMware now has embraced Microsoft's perspective. It's remarkable not because of the misunderstanding of VMware products or strategies, but because it unabashedly proclaims what has previously been a less emphasized Microsoft assertion: "Virtualization is simply a role within the Windows® operating environment."
What's Wrong with Virtualization as a Feature of the OS?
VMware would certainly make a case that running virtualization as an OS feature not only incurs unnecessary bloat, but also results in less performance, reliability and security. Microsoft undoubtedly would claim the opposite. But more importantly than the technical arguments are the very different approaches to virtualization that result from the two perspectives.
VMware's promotion of virtualization as a platform mandates not only exceptional reliability and performance, but also encourages development of enterprise toolsets such as Fault Tolerance, Storage VMotion, vDS for virtualizing the network and many more. Gartner validated this advantage when it recently positioned VMware as the only firm in the Leaders quadrant of the Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure.
On the other hand, I've written about Microsoft's advocacy of a slow, evolutionary virtualization journey designed to "preserve and extend existing investments", or in other words, maintain the status quo. The downside is that this approach incurs unnecessary expense, risk and inefficiencies. It also can lead to less than optimal architecture and product choices.
The Private Cloud
While inefficient, organizations can still be successful with deploying virtualization at a grass roots level and expanding the environment until they eventually end up with a virtualized data center. Despite Microsoft's advocacy to the contrary, this approach is not likely to be successful with establishing a private cloud.
Transitioning IT to a service where resources are dynamically allocated as needed and charged as consumed requires a commitment to new technologies, equipment and operations processes. Only an enterprise level approach will free up the economic and political resources necessary to effect the transformation.