Microsoft Virtual Academy: Live Q&A!

The IT Pro Evangelism team, Microsoft Learning and the Microsoft Virtual Academy are pleased to announce the next FREE & PUBLIC event Live Q&A: Introduction to Hyper-V on Wednesday April 3rd, from 8:30 am – 10:30am PST with virtualization experts Jeff Woolsey & Symon Perriman.

Ask your customers to join this live online event designed for IT professionals that have questions about Microsoft virtualization and want to learn about Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.  Register here: http://aka.ms/MVAf-HyperV.  If you cannot make the live event, sign up anyway so you can receive a notification when the recording is published on the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Topics and demos may include:

· Introduction to Microsoft Virtualization

· Hyper-V Infrastructure

· Hyper-V Networking

· Hyper-V Storage

· Hyper-V Management

· Hyper-V High Availability and Live Migration

· Integration with System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager

· Integration with Other System Center 2012 Components

Tweet: Ask us your questions about #Windows #Sever 2012 #HyperV! Register for this live free public Q&A event on April 3rd: http://aka.ms/MVAf-HyperV

Also check out our recent full day training Microsoft Virtualization for VMware Professionals Jump Start which is now available on the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

It’s Official: My SIXTH MVP Award Category

Two weeks ago 1,400 Microsoft MVPs gathered in Redmond, Washington (the MotherShip, as some call it!) to ‘geek out’ for three days (or as many as six for some, depending on pre-day and post-day events).  We spent at least two and as many as four days in closed-door sessions with the product teams for which we were awarded… in my case it was with the Windows Client product team, which includes Windows 8, Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP), Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and other deployment technologies, and of course the folks behind the Microsoft Surface.

While we all enjoyed ourselves immensely, I realized early on that although I do spend a lot of time discussing and presenting Windows 8, it is simply not the area where I spend most of my energies and focus.  As such, after meeting with both Stephen Rose (a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Windows) and Ben Armstrong, and then making the formal request through proper channels, I am proud to say that I have officially switched MVP competencies to Virtual Machine.

For those of you keeping score, here is the official list:MVP_Horizontal_FullColor

  1. Windows Server – Customer Experience
  2. Small Business Server
  3. Essential Business Server
  4. Windows Desktop Experience
  5. Windows Expert – IT Pro
  6. Virtual Machine

I want you all to know that this is not because I cannot make up my mind… simply over the years interests and areas of focus change.  A couple of years ago I was spending a lot of time talking about desktop deployment, which put me square into the Windows DE (and then Windows Expert – IT Pro) camp.  My primary focus of late has been virtualization, and it looks like that is where I am going to stay for at least a couple of years.  I am sure you all know that this is not simply a whim – I am as passionate about virtualization as is possible.

For any of you who might be interested in seeing my MVP Profile Page, it can be viewed at: http://mvp.microsoft.com/profiles/Mitch.

I want to thank all of my friends in the Windows space – Stephen Rose, David Trupkin, Michael Niehaus, and everyone else (too many to mention!) for everything they have done for me over the past few years.  I promise that I am not abandoning you – simply adjusting to the realities.  I will continue to participate in the STEP (Springboard Technical Experts Panel) as long as I am allowed, and will speak at every user group that invites me!

I am looking forward to my new program – new lists, mail servers, and so on… time to reintroduce myself to another group of poor, unsuspecting souls who have no idea what they have coming to them fine MVPs with whom I have so much in common!

Ottawa & the NCR… Let’s Get Virtual!

If you are an IT Pro in the National Capital Reason, we have an event for you!  On Friday, February 17th and again on Saturday, February 18th Microsoft Canada’s Evangelism team is bringing the IT Virtualization Boot Camp to you!

Damir Bersenic and I will be hosting the event, for two days of geeking out… we will be building a virtualization environment from scratch, including full failover and Live Migration capabilities, and all in one day!

The format is fun and exciting, with teams of four participants competing for cash prizes!  The cost is $25, all of which goes directly to your local user group which, in turn, helps you!

For more information and to register visit the Canadian IT Pro Connection at http://blogs.technet.com/b/canitpro/archive/2012/02/06/hands-on-with-private-cloud-technology-it-virtualization-boot-camp-dates-for-ottawa-amp-calgary.aspx.  I look forward to seeing you in Ottawa in February!

CanIT! (Pro)

For years I have followed, worked with, and looked to the IT Evangelism team at Microsoft Canada for guidance and direction.  My first encounter with them probably dates back to 2003 (before there was an actual team), but I really started to get to know them in 2005.  When Rick Claus came to speak to the GUMSNET user group about virtualization in November, 2004 I saw him behind the podium at Microsoft Canada as a behemoth (and he is not nearly tall enough to be that), and as I got to know the other members of the team – past, present, and future – I always admired the passion they had for what they discussed, along with (obviously) a deep knowledge of the technologies they discussed.

Last week Rick Claus, the ‘Team Elder’ as it were, announced that he has moved on.  He is still an IT Evangelist for Microsoft, but he has moved down to Redmond and is now working for Corp.  I wish him well, and know that while we will miss him in Canada he will be a great addition to the team in Redmond.

Meanwhile back in Canada I am currently doing a lot of work with the Evangelism team on their Virtualization Boot Camp tour, and was thrilled that Damir asked to re-post two of my articles from this site there.  They are:

What’s a Layer 1 or Layer 2 Hypervisor and Where Does Hyper-V Fit in?

and

Virtualization Infrastructure: Which platform is right for you?

I am currently in the process of writing another article which I hope to cross-post shortly.  Keep your eyes peeled to both these sites for great information that will help you grow as an IT Professional!  Also watch both sites for news about other cities where the Virtualization Boot Camp will be showing up… they are a great opportunity for you to learn virtualization, win cash prizes, and support your local user group community!

Virtualization Lessons–Both Positive and Negative!

As I sit in the back of the room for Microsoft Canada’s Virtualization Boot Camp Challenge today I see that the lab environments that we are providing to the attendees actually mimics the setup I use for my Virtual Partner Technology Advisor (vPTA) sessions.  As such, I am seeing a lot of potential for attendees to learn a lot of great technologies, but there are a few lessons that they should know.  I outlined these in an article last year called ‘vPTA: What NOT to take away from my 1-day virtualization training.’  I will urge all of the attendees (as well as all of you!) to click on the link and read the article. While a lot of the practices we use are fine for a test/lab environment, you should be aware of them before you try to implement them in your production environment!

I have written a bunch of other articles that are pertinent to the discussion… here are just some of those links:

How to get a head start on the NEW Management and Virtualization Competency

Layer 1 or Layer 2 Hypervisor? A common misconception of Hyper-V, and a brief explanation of the Parent Partition

Virtualization Infrastructure: Which platform is right for you?

Microsoft Virtualization Learning Resources

Hyper-V Training – 10215AE is now available in E-Learning!

Real Help in A Virtual World

Busting the Myth: You cannot cluster Windows Small Business Server

A follow-up to my article on configuring iSCSI initiator in Server Core & Hyper-V Server

A brief response to the vSphere 5 vs. Hyper-V question…

Gartner agrees with me… Hyper-V is for real!

Do you have your Virtcerts?

MCITP: Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2 (and other R2 Virt Certs)

IT Virtualization Boot Camp

Hey folks!  The IT Professionals Community of Greater Toronto and Microsoft Canada are getting together to bring you this amazing opportunity!  This Saturday (January 21st) and next Monday (January 23rd) we are doing a full-day Virtualization Boot Camp!  The cost is only $25, with Damir Bersenic (Senior IT Pro Advisor, Microsoft Canada) leading the way with a lot of input and guidance from yours truly.  It is really an event that you should NOT miss… come learn how to make Hyper-V work for you, along with all of the components of Windows 2008 R2 and the System Center family!  Don’t miss it… sign up today, and come say hi to me when you are there! -M

 clip_image002                                 clip_image003

Want to get hands-on with Microsoft’s Virtualization technologies including Hyper-V?  Interested in configuring a highly-available virtualization infrastructure?  Have you wondered how to configure and use an iSCSI-based storage server?  Curious how Windows Failover Clustering can help you get a good night’s sleep?  If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you need to be at the IT Virtualization Boot Camp.

The IT Virtualization Boot Camp provides a fun and collaborative environment where you will get hands-on experience to:

  • Prepare your Windows Server-based computers for virtualization
  • Configure iSCSI storage targets
  • Create Windows Failover Clusters
  • Make virtual machines highly available with Hyper-V and enable Live Migration to hot-migrate running workloads between hosts with no loss in client connectivity
  • Integrate non-Microsoft virtual machines into your cluster
  • See how Windows Failover Clustering can help to make dealing with hardware failure easier

When: Saturday January 21, 2012 http://itvbc20120121.eventbrite.ca

Monday January 23, 2012http://itvbc20120123.eventbrite.ca

Session starts at 10am and ends at 4pm.

Registration and snacks begin at 9:30am.  Lunch will be provided.

Where: Microsoft Canada, 1950 Meadowvale Blvd, Mississauga, ON

Please park in the event parking lot and enter through the Event entrance.

Cost:                $25. Proceeds from this event will help benefit your user group.

How to get a head start on the NEW Management and Virtualization Competency

Normally when I find an interesting and relevant article I will retweet it or possibly post a link to it here.  However since so many of my Microsoft Partners and students have either achieved or are striving to achieve the MPN Virtualization Competency, I asked Eric Ligman for permission to re-publish his very clear article here, in its entirety.  Thanks Eric! –Mitch

By Eric Ligman, Microsoft

race_the_clock_PA_150_clr

As you may have heard, in May 2012, we will be combining two of the existing Microsoft Partner Network competencies (Systems Management and Virtualization) into a new unified competency (Management and Virtualization). As a Microsoft partner, these two areas are huge business opportunities and now you have the chance to get ahead of the game by moving into the new Management and Virtualization competency before we bring it to market in May 2012. That’s right! You don’t need to wait until May to work towards achieving the new Management and Virtualization competency and below I’ll show you how you can get started right now.

Why should you get into the Management and Virtualization competency? Well, outside of the big business opportunity that Systems Management and Virtualization offer, here are just some of the additional advantages:

  • Attaining the Management and Virtualization competency gives you the opportunity to differentiate your business by delivering a new breed of Private Cloud, Management and Virtualization solutions
  • Get access to relevant updates,resources, tools, and training for Microsoft management and virtualization technologies
  • Attaining a gold Management and Virtualization competency qualifies you to earn substantial channel benefits through programs like the Management and Virtualization Solution Incentive Program (SIP) and the Private Cloud, Management and Virtualization Deployment Planning Services (PVDPS)

So can you qualify for the new Management and Virtualization competency? Let me show you:

Are you a partner with an existing Systems Management competency or Virtualization competency?

If so, then I have some good news for you. After the merge of the two existing competencies and launch of the new Management and Virtualization competency (scheduled for May 2012), all active Systems Management and/or Virtualization competency partners will automatically get transferred into the new competency. So if you already have one of those competencies and it is active after the merge in May 2012, your path is pretty simple, you’re in. Smile One thing to note, when you come up for renewal of your competency after May 2012, you will have to meet the new competency requirements to renew into the Management and Virtualization competency.

After May 2012, if you want to obtain the new Management and Virtualization competency:

Here are the requirements for both the silver and gold competencies (these also apply to any partner looking to renew their competency after the merge):

Silver Competency Gold Competency

Certification Requirements
One person has passed one of these exams:

  • Exam 70-400: TS: SC Operations Manager 2007,Configuring
  • Exam 70-401: TS: SC Configuration Manager 2007,Configuring
  • Exam 70-658: TS: SC Data Protection Manager 2007, Configuring.

AND

One person has passed one of these exams:

  • Exam 70-659: TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization
  • Exam 70-669: TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization.

Certification Requirements
Four unique persons have each passed the following exams:

  • Exam 70-693: Pro: Windows Server 2008 R2,
    Virtualization Administrator

AND

  • Exam 70-400: TS: SC Operations Manager 2007, Configuring OR Exam 70-401: TS: SC Configuration Manager 2007, Configuring

AND

  • Exam 70-659: TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization OR Exam 70-669: TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Desktop Virtualization.

Business Assessments

  • Licensing: One person has passed the Microsoft licensing overview assessment.
  • Sales: One person has passed the Microsoft Sales Specialist Management and Virtualization assessment.

Business Assessments

  • Licensing: One person has passed the Microsoft licensing overview assessment.
  • Sales: Two persons have passed the Microsoft Sales Specialist Management and Virtualization assessment.

Customer Evidence Requirements

  • Submit three customer references that showcase design and implementation of a solution using System Center and Virtualization

Customer Evidence Requirements

  • Submit five customer references that showcase design and implementation of a solution using System Center and Virtualization
  • Each reference must feature a project that your organization has completed within the past 12 months and will be verified with your customer

Partners who do NOT have a Systems Management or Virtualization competency today but want to get the new Management and Virtualization competency:

Good news for you! You do not have to wait to get the new competency because all partners have the unique opportunity to meet these requirements for either the silver or gold competency and then contact their local Regional Service Center. The Regional Service Center will confirm your credentials and place you into either the Systems Management or Virtualization competency. Then, when the new requirements go into effect, you will automatically transition into the new Management and Virtualization competency.

We have a document posted on the Microsoft Partner Network portal that you can download and has full details around the new merged competency, the requirements, the migration paths, and more, so you might want to grab that to look through as well.

Did you find this information helpful? If so, you may want to make sure you are utilizing all of the areas I share information online, such as: my Facebook page, my Twitter account, my Linkedin account, and my blog. Plus, you can now get all of the latest Microsoft Partner Information right on your phone!

Have a Cup of Coffee (or two!) on us…

What a great deal… Microsoft Canada has posted a link to download the Release Candidate editions of System Center <fill in the blank> 2012, which are all in pre-release and ready to test (and are fully upgradeable to the final RTM versions!) directly.  However because the total package is about 6GB, it will take a while… so if you follow the directions, they will send you a Tim Hortons gift card to have a cup of coffee on them!  Of course, it won’t be while you wait… but who can say no to free coffee?  Click now and follow Rick’s instructions!

http://blogs.technet.com/b/canitpro/archive/2011/12/16/how-would-you-like-a-doubledouble.aspx

Are You Virtual? CLICK HERE!

For months I have been talking to you about the Microsoft Virtual AcademyAre you registered?  If you do it now you can get access to all sorts of great learning tools on Virtualization and other Microsoft Technologies!  If you click here and let me know that you did, you can win!  I am going to hold a contest… if you use my specific click-through to register (or even to check it out) leave me a comment and you will be entered into the draw to win a couple of great prizes!  Encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same because for every hundred entrants I will add TWO more prizes Smile  If I hit 1000 I will add a major prize!  However you need to click through to one of these links in order to qualify:

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Microsoft Evaluation Download Center

Microsoft TechNet Cloud Hub

Enter early and enter often… the winners will be contacted by e-mail so make sure I have your contact information… and remember, as always, you will NEVER be spammed and your contact details will never be shared with anyone!

The contest is open through December 15th, but every time I get 100 clicks I will give away a minor prize… and IF I get to 1,000 clicks I will give away the MAJOR prize on December 20th (all entrants will be eligible, regardless of whether you have already won or not).  Good luck!

Microsoft Virtualization Learning Resources

It is amazing how many people ask me what resources are available for someone who wants to learn Microsoft Virtualization and then get certified with either the MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) or MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional).  After all, they are all over the place. The first place to look is Microsoft.

According to IDC WW Quarterly Server Virtualization Tracker (March, 2011) Hyper-V has grown to a 16% market share, which is pretty amazing considering that prior to the launch of Hyper-V in 2008 the world scoffed at Microsoft Virtualization.  In July Gartner released its Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure placed Microsoft in the Leaders quadrant, which for years had belonged exclusively to VMware.  I have been telling people for years that you should never bet against Microsoft once they decide to put all of their resources into going from Worst to First.  They hire the best developers and have the deepest pocket… and have more experience making solid operating systems than anyone else!

Of course I still recommend everyone take my course! I did not write Microsoft Learning’s 10215A, but I have taught it several times and it has been very well received.  Some people don’t want to take a full week ILT class, so now it is available on-line as an e-learning offering from Microsoft Learning as Collection 10215- Implementing and Managing Microsoft Server Virtualization.  If you don’t recognize the handsome (sic!) fellow on camera, then hopefully one day we will be able to actually meet.  I had so much fun recording it, even though I had to change my style so drastically to fit their guidelines.

Last week I published an article pointing to all of the original Jump Start videos – you can check that out here (Real Help in a Virtual World) and see Symon Perriman and Corey Hines talking… you can see their passion as well as their knowledge.

On October 4th Symon will be at it again… this time teamed up with a very good friend of mine and a true celebrity of the Canadian IT Pro scene, Rick Claus from Microsoft Canada.  They will be hosting MC3 October: Virtualization, a session for the Microsoft Certified Community Connection.  It will be a free 3-hour session presenting a current look at virtualization – an update on technology, an overview of certifications, and a discussion of the career opportunities available.  You will not want to miss this session!

Microsoft has several other offerings available, including a new Jump Start! Microsoft Server Virtualization – Get Certified! offering which you can register for now by clicking here. For $99 you not only get a full day of Jump Start lessons (as a Live Virtual Classroom), you also get an exam voucher (value $150!) included. You don’t have to be a mathematical genius to realize that it’s worth it!  Reserve your spot today.

Knowing all of this are you still interested in taking the full class with me?  As long as you are a Microsoft Partner (in Canada) you can, and subsidized at that.  Keep watching your Partner Newsletters for details on when the next class is, and either I or another highly skilled Microsoft Certified Trainer will be glad to teach it to you.

Are you in Toronto and do not want to wait for the next newsletter? SWMI Consulting Group partners with a Microsoft Silver Learning Partner to deliver this training both as public classroom and private offerings for your company.  Let us know and we will be glad to set it up for you.

As well, if you are a Microsoft Partner in Canada and would like for a Virtual Partner Technology Advisor to come to your offices to spend a day teaching your team about both the technologies and the business value of Microsoft Virtualization, then all you have to do is speak with your Partner Account Manager and see if you qualify.  I’d love to come see you Smile

Virtualization is not only the future, it is the present… you don’t have to be Gartner or IDC to see that.  With VMware’s new Memory Tax Hyper-V is the way to go… and now is the time to learn it.  Check out these resources, build out your lab environment, and get with the program because WE NEED YOU! Actually, it is your clients who need you… to learn the technology so that you can architect and build the best solutions for them.  How do you do that? The first step is to learn, the second is to get certified.  Good luck!

Hyper-V Training–10215AE is now available in E-Learning!

I am asked all the time what are the best resources available to learn Hyper-V and the associated technologies – from the hypervisor to System Center, Failover Clustering, data protection, remote desktop and so much more – and the answer is simple: Take the course. Microsoft Learning’s course 10215A is an excellent offering that I teach quite often, chiefly but not exclusively for the Microsoft Partner Network in Canada.

Unfortunately not everyone can take my class.  There are a lot of reasons, including geography, cost, and availability.  Not every company is willing to allow their employees to take five days off to take a class, and realistically the class is not offered in every city or by every training centre.  To pay for a five day instructor-led MOC course is another reason – most centres charge over $2,000 to attend the five day class, and that does not include lunch or the cost of writing the exam.  Microsoft Canada has offer this course several times per year (and will continue to do so) and subsidizes it heavily making for one of the best deals in town… but there are only so many seats in the class, and you have to be one of the first fifteen.

There are a few other issues that I hear often, including complaints that there is a lot of information to digest in 5 days (and often taught in 4 days).  The labs should be made available after the course, which of course would greatly increase the value but also the cost.

So I am pleased to announce that Microsoft Learning has now released the course in e-learning format.  Collection 10215: Implementing and Managing Microsoft Server Virtualization is an on-line collection of six mini-courses:

The six courses include demos, practice questions, and labs, as well as yours truly on screen teaching most of the material in an abridged version of the ILT version.  It can be viewed either on-line, or downloaded and viewed off-line using the E-Learning Offline Player.  I was glad to find this out because I have a lot of airplane travel coming up in the next two months, and it will be a good use of my time.  Whether you plan to go through the courses on-line or off-line they will be a very good use of your time to go through them to learn Hyper-V, understand the tools around Hyper-V that make it a very viable alternative for VMware, and of course prepare yourself to pass exam 70-659!

E-Learning is a great alternative to instructor-led training (ILT) for a number of reasons.  Of course, as a professional IT trainer I truly believe that the best way to learn most technologies is to sit through my class.  I do not only teach the material on the slides (I hate RTFS instructors!), I try to convey to my students my real-world experience with the technologies, as well as the business value which is so important when speaking with CxOs.  However for students who cannot take the time or cannot spend the money, or for those who do not live close enough to a training centre that offers the course that the are interested in, e-learning allows students to learn the material (and prepare for the exam) from wherever they are, for a lower cost, and at their convenience.  They will never cancel at the last minute due to client emergencies, they will just go through the material at their convenience.  As for the real-world experience… well, for that you have The World According to Mitch Smile

Let me know what you think about the course… I would love your feedback!

Real Help in a Virtual World

As you know I spend a lot of time discussing virtualization, both as a vPTA for Microsoft Canada and as an MCT.  There is a lot of information out there to help IT Pros at every level, from getting started to the graduate-level super-high-end questions.  The problem is finding it, and when you do find it you have to separate the wheat from the chaff – the valuable information from all of the fud that is out there.

The following is a list of  videos are essentially a soup to nuts graduate course on Microsoft Server Virtualization.  Although I love teaching the class, I am glad that I can point my students (and the rest of you!) to a few on-line resources… until the Microsoft e-learning course 10215AE comes on-line (in November) I suggest you watch these videos, especially if you are thinking about taking any of the Microsoft Certification exams anytime soon!  The speakers are Corey Hynes and Symon Perriman, both IT Pros whom I trust and respect. -M

Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA):

Occasionally there is an announcement or new offering worth calling special attention to and the teams at Microsoft wanted me to make sure everyone saw this one:

Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA): http://www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com/

MVA has been around for a few months and we are trying to raise awareness about its existence to the broader community.  I would really encourage you and anyone else you might know to register for MVA.  It only takes a minute to register but it will give you a great set of resources for learning.  We will also be doing some activities around the MVP Program with MVA in the future, so please do sign up!

The Microsoft Virtual Academy is a great resource and will help you improve your IT Skill set and help advance in your career with a free, easy to access training portal. You can learn at your own pace, focusing on Microsoft technologies, gain points and get recognition.  The MVA is a free program delivering structured learning paths for IT Professionals on various Microsoft products and solutions.

If you are not yet registered on MVA, it takes only a second to do so ; please register here.

We would greatly appreciate if you could share the availability of MVA to your broader community via your blogs, twitter, Facebook and in person at User Groups. Please share this free online virtual resource to anyone you think would benefit.

Here is a tweet for you guys to leverage:

Is there such a thing as a free lunch? Well there are free courses at the #MVA, so take advantage of your registration.

Gartner agrees with me… Hyper-V is for real!

In September Microsoft Canada contracted me as a Virtual Partner Technology Advisor, tasking me with evangelizing Microsoft virtualization solutions.  One of the reasons I was such a good fit for the role is that I am very familiar with both Microsoft’s and VMware’s server virtualization solutions – I teach and consult on both platforms.  I am a VMware Certified Professional (VCP 4) as well as a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) Virtualization Administrator.

For the past ten months I have (in an official capacity) espoused the benefits of Hyper-V and the Microsoft Server Virtualization Solutions.  I have visited over thirty partners and given a dozen or more presentations to user groups; I have taught at least five full classes of 10215A to partners and end users alike, and I continually hear the same question from IT Pros and users alike: ‘What you are telling us and showing us is nice, but can Microsoft really compete head to head with VMware for market dominance?  Are they really a legitimate player in the virtualization space that has for so many years been dominated by a single player?

My answer has been yes every time, and each time Microsoft releases new versions of Hyper-V – first 2008 R2, then this past winter Service Pack 1 – they come closer to technological parity.  The closer they come to being an equivalent technology (and they are now closer than ever!) the more the deciding factor is going to start coming down to price… and man, does Microsoft ever win in that category!

Of course it is easy to see me as biased, but I’m sure we all agree that Gartner is unbiased.  According to their latest (June 30, 2011) Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure, Microsoft has firmly taken a position in the Leaders square.  For years VMware alone occupied that coveted position (based on rankings along the X-axis of completeness of vision, and the Y-axis of ability to execute).  VMware (who it should be noted are still the leaders)  has Microsoft and then Citrix nipping at its heels.

According to the report:

Citrix and Microsoft have joined VMware in the Leaders Quadrant by increasing vision and execution respectively. Although market share leader VMware continues to set the standard in products and the pace in terms of strategy, Microsoft has increased its market share (especially among midmarket customers new to virtualization), and Citrix is leveraging its desktop virtualization strengths and its free XenServer offering to expand its server virtualization share. The road map from virtualization to cloud computing is rapidly evolving, and executing will be very important during the next year as this market continues to rapidly evolve and grow.

Interestingly one of the factors that many of the companies I have spoken to with regard to this choice – price, and the ability to make a profit off the solution – is called out in the report as both a key strength and a weakness ‘…when it comes to influencing the channel to promote its product, rather than its competition.’  Because Hyper-V is a free product (or, more accurately, is a component of a product that the client is already buying), there is nothing more to sell… the partners cannot mark up another product. 

One of the points listed in the Gartner report under ‘Cautions’ is the ‘Hypervisor dependence on a running copy of Windows as a parent operating system’ can also be viewed as a strength, because of the sheer amount of different hardware types supported, ranging from high-end server farms used in the enterprise to laptops and white-boxes that IT Pros, enthusiasts, and students may have in their basement as learning platforms.  For a recent presentation I was forced to downgrade my VMware hypervisor to an older version simply because ESX 4.1 was not supported and would not even install on my demo box. To quote the report:

The most significant hypervisor difference continues to be Microsoft’s reliance on a parent operating system on each virtualization host — which carries the benefit of a proven driver architecture, but the burden of potentially more planned downtime for patching and maintenance (however, Microsoft’s patch record to date for its parent operating system has been good).

All in all, I think it is going to be hard for VMware to remain the industry leader for long.  Let me be clear: they make great products.  Whatever my beef may be with the company, I don’t have a bad word to say against their server virtualization technology.  However with Microsoft catching up as fast as they are (System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM) 2012 is currently in beta) it is hard to see VMware remaining the industry leader for too much longer without coming up with something so dramatically new and unique as to vault them once again ahead of all other players.

I look forward to seeing vSphere 5 (possibly being released as early as July 12th); from what I have read mostly through unsanctioned sites it will be VERY interesting to see.  However I still don’t see it being worth the price difference. 

One thing’s for sure… it will be an interesting couple of years in the virtualization space!