With VMware continuing to dominate the marketplace and other competitors emerging, Microsoft is skillfully playing virtualization chess. How can Microsoft build a dominant position in the virtualization marketplace while showing goodwill towards the Linux community and completely isolating its competitors? Here is how
- Provide (selective) support for Linux. Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server is the only Linux distribution officially supported by Microsoft Hyper-V.
- Offer an alternative virtualization platform for enterprises using Linux that is interoperable with Hyper-V. This is where Citrix XenServer comes in, partially because it provides much broader support for Linux guest operating systems.
- Build virtualization management applications that span the two. This is where management applications such as Citrix Essentials for XenServer and Hyper-V come in. Microsoft System Center and Novell PlateSpin family of products will also provide cross-platform support.
To maximize its grip over the virtualization marketplace, Microsoft wants customers to choose between a Linux- and a Windows-based hypervisor that it endorses and supports. The strategy code looks like something this:
if customer(running primarily Windows & wants Windows-based hypervisor) then return Microsoft Hyper-V + Microsoft Windows Server
else if customer(running primarily Linux & wants Linux-based hypervisor) then return Citrix XenServer + Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server
else return Microsoft Hyper-V + Microsoft Windows Server
This approach gives customers choice and essentially isolates all the other Linux-based virtualization platform vendors: Red Hat, VMware, etc... This approach is also sound from an anti-trust perspective because it would ensure that Microsoft is not perceived as a monopoly in the virtualization space a few years from now.