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Feature for Feature: VMware ESX Server versus Microsoft Hyper-V

Virtualization Means Cost and Energy Savings

The Windows IT Pro editorial team looks at dozens if not hundreds of products every year, and picking one winner out of all those in a particular category is always a challenge. That predicament is further amplified when we consider a product for our most prestigious Product of the Year award. VMware ESX Server 3.5—a subset of the VMware Infrastructure 3 bundle—made our decision easy this year.

Virtualization has shaken the IT industry to its roots over the past few years, and no product influenced that sea change more than the ESX Server family. In an interview with Windows IT Pro, VMware President and CEO Diane Greene mentioned how virtualization is generating tangible, significant cost and energy savings for IT administrators. “We estimate that there have been at least six million workloads virtualized since 1998,” says Greene. “If we figure 7,000 kilowatt hours for every physical server that is virtualized per year, that goes to 39 billion kilowatt hours. \[That translates\] into about $4.4 billion saved, which represents enough energy to power Denmark for a year.”

Positive Changes for IT Infrastructure

In addition to the energy and cost savings that ESX Server 3.5 has generated, it has also helped radically redefine how IT pros manage their infrastructures. Michael Cisek, the director of emerging infrastructure and operations support for PITT OHIO EXPRESS, has relied on ESX Server 3.5 (and the VMware Infrastructure 3 bundle) to radically revamp his IT infrastructure. “We’ve been able to reduce our server pool using server consolidation, often at a fifteen-to-one consolidation ratio. Our server deployment time went from days or weeks to minutes and hours, thus reducing the overall development cycle of new products and application,” says Cisek. “We’ve also experienced zero-cost hardware replacements \[by using virtual machines\]; when equipment begins to fail, we perform physical-to-virtual server conversions … We’re also in the process of converting to a virtual QA infrastructure. Our goal is to have one-to-one representation of all mission-critical applications for QA and testing. Finally, our developers used to maintain multiple physical workstations: one for production, one for development, and one for QA. We’ve been able to consolidate all three of those functions onto one physical PC by using VMware Workstation.”

The impending arrival of Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V will mean more competition for VMware in this rapidly growing market segment. If VMware can revolutionize the IT industry in an unopposed market, what can it do when motivated by an aggressive competitor? It’s shaping up to be an exciting battle, one that every IT administrator (and penny-pinching CFO) will be watching with interest.

—Jeff James

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