Seven of the biggest server virtualization news stories in 2012

Drama, intrigue, fighting, change, technology advancement, and acquisitions abounded throughout the year

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6. SDN and virtual networking: New buzzwords

We couldn't complete 2012 without updating the buzzword bingo sheet. This year we were quickly indoctrinated into the world of software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualized networks.

The SDN market is quickly emerging as one of the key architectural elements required for the next-generation public cloud and private virtual datac enter. SDN abstracts away the underlying hardware from the network, making it easier to program and more simple to manage. And let's be honest: It's arguably the most exciting thing to happen to the network market in the last 10 years.

At the beginning of the year VMware stuck its toe in the SDN waters when it joined the Open Networking Research Center, a group dedicated to furthering the development of SDN technology. In July VMware dove headfirst into the water with its $1.26 billion acquisition of Nicira, the company that created OpenFlow and helped pioneer the SDN market.

Other companies also jumped into SDN waters. In April, Cisco announced it was funding advanced networking startup Insieme with $100 million. Along with that initial funding, Cisco said it would have the option to eventually purchase the company for as much as an additional $750 million. In August, Oracle acquired Xsigo to address its own network virtualization challenges. And in November, Brocade acquired startup Vyatta to bolster its SDN solution. This relatively new market has also launched a Japanese startup, Midokura, which in October officially announced its U.S. launch and introduced its MidoNet software.

7. Microsoft and VMware squabble ... again and again

Expect to see more of the same from Microsoft and VMware, as they continue to battle it out in 2013 much like they did throughout 2012. These two giants have not only been fighting the good fight in their respective R&D shops, they've also been going at it time and again in the public forum with marketing campaigns and, yes, marketing FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

Microsoft took to the airwaves with a humorous 1970s-style campaign called "VM-limited," where Microsoft attempted to paint VMware as a company stuck in the past while trying to build a cloud solution for the future. VMware responded with a 1-2-3 punch: first poking fun at Microsoft's "less than sales ready" product, then commissioning a third-party report to refute Microsoft's cheaper pricing claims, and finally, launching a new marketing campaign of its own called "Get the Facts," where it rebutted more of Microsoft's claims against the company.

In November, Microsoft again threw down the gauntlet at VMware and went after the virtualization leader on price, claiming that Windows Server and Hyper-V is a much cheaper alternative than a comparable VMware offering. The company even tried using VMware's own pricing calculator against it. VMware responded with a post on its Virtual Reality blog site titled "Flawed Logic Behind Microsoft's Virtualization and Private Cloud Cost Comparisons," saying the cost-per-application calculator was designed to rebut Microsoft claims that Hyper-V is five to 10 times cheaper. Beyond Microsoft's single example, VMware's calculator shows that the acquisition cost -- even when choosing vSphere Enterprise Plus (VMware's highest and most expensive edition) -- is at parity with Microsoft and actually beats Microsoft for most configurations.

Beyond the squabbling, real competition like this does foster innovation, at the end of the day benefiting buyers and users. We've seen it pay off already with advancements in Hyper-V 3.0 and vSphere 5.1. The innovation will continue in 2013, but of course so will the FUD.

With everything that's already taken place in 2012, I expect 2013 will be an equally eventful time for server virtualization. This market is a long way from becoming boring. Are you ready?

This article, "Seven of the biggest server virtualization news stories in 2012," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in virtualization at

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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