VMware vs. Microsoft: The fight heats up again

VMware's response to Microsoft's negative server virtualization and cloud claims proves Hyper-V is a threat that can't be ignored

Perhaps one of the greatest fights ever was the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier known as the "Thrilla in Manila." Inside the ring, these two boxing giants went at it for 14 rounds, leaving nothing behind, to try and prove who was the better fighter. But even before they stepped foot in the squared circle, leading up to the fight there was a lot of trash talk going around as to who would win and who would be the greatest fighter of all time.

In the virtualization world, where VMware and Microsoft seem to be going at it like Ali and Frazier, we may not have a 15-round limit or de-facto panel of judges to decide a winner, but we still have industry giants willing to battle it out in public and trash talk one another in the form of marketing FUD and social media madness. In this case, the battle is for dominance in the server virtualization and cloud computing markets, and neither company is anywhere close to throwing in the towel.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Security issues found in 64-bit virtualization software running on Intel CPUs. | Veeam has released a free virtualization backup tool for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V. | Keep up on virtualization by signing up for InfoWorld's Virtualization newsletter. ]

Since its initial product launch in 2000, VMware has been the company to beat in server virtualization technology when it comes to features, stability, security, and market share. But beyond the "virtual" ring of technology and product capabilities, the real fighting is being conducted through trash-talking marketing. With the world's largest virtualization trade show coming up, it should come as no surprise that things are heating up again. VMworld has been a hot spot of contention and FUD for the past few years. Who can forget Microsoft's marketing debacle at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas with its poker chip giveaway and its "vmwarecostswaytoomuch" campaign? VMware retaliated by stuffing Microsoft into a small 10-by-10 booth at VMworld 2009.

Fast-forward to Microsoft once again reaching into its FUD marketing bag of tricks. This time the company created a humorous video campaign series known as "VM-Limited," featuring a 1970s look and feel and a No. 1 salesman character known as Tad. The campaign is meant to highlight what Microsoft perceives as VMware's inability to move beyond its virtualization roots (being stuck in the IT past) while trying to build a cloud solution (the IT future).

Among virtualization audiences, some like the campaign, some don't. Is it changing minds? That remains unclear. But one thing is certain: VMware is no longer sitting around taking marketing abuse from Microsoft. The virtualization giant recently responded with a 1-2-3 combination punch of its own.

The jab
In a recent blog post, VMware responded to Microsoft with its own stab at humor, borrowing from American statesman Benjamin Franklin in saying "One today is worth two tomorrows," a tongue-in-cheek reference to Microsoft's tendency to make claims about products and features that are more road map discussion than tangible sales-ready product. We're hearing a lot about the new features in Hyper-V 3.0 and System Center 2012 and how they compare with VMware vSphere 5.0, but those products are still a ways out, and VMware will be introducing its own updates to vSphere -- perhaps as soon as VMworld 2012 two months from now.

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