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Microsoft Courts VMware Users with Hyper-V Switch Offer

Microsoft is readying a new offer aimed at swaying organizations running VMware to switch to Hyper-V.

The limited-time offer, which will run from Sept. 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017, is for organizations running workloads using VMware vSphere server virtualization. If those organizations make the switch to Microsoft's Hyper-V technologies, they'll get "free Windows Server Datacenter licenses when buying Windows Server Datacenter + Software Assurance," according to Microsoft's announcement on Wednesday.

Of course, organizations still must pay for Software Assurance costs under this deal. A similar offer was seen earlier this year when Microsoft tried to get Oracle users to switch to SQL Server 2016 if they agreed to pay for the Software Assurance coverage.

Software Assurance is sometimes described as adding about 25 percent to 27 percent on top of the cost of the underlying license's cost. Organizations are expected to renew Software Assurance agreements each year. Under Software Assurance coverage, an organization gets the rights to upgrade to the latest software version within the Software Assurance contractual period, and they get a few educational perks.

Microsoft appears to be referring to the Windows Server 2016 Datacenter edition with this Hyper-V switch deal. Windows Server 2016 is still at the preview stage right now, but it'll be available this fall, as Microsoft is planning to sell it starting with its October price-list offerings.

Microsoft is hoping to catch up to VMware's x86 virtualization capabilities with the release of Windows Server 2016, according to Gartner's "Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure" document (accessible via sign-up here), which looked at Hyper-V released with Windows Server 2012 R2. Hyper-V had gaps with VMware vSphere in terms of planned downtime, high-availability complexity, automation of live migration and site recovery capabilities, Gartner's report contended.

The precise details of Microsoft's Hyper-V switch offer are unclear, although a "View migration offer" document can be downloaded at Microsoft's switch page here. Organizations wanting to take advantage of the deal are directed in that document to "identify virtualized workloads to migrate and specify the Windows Server Datacenter cores required." (One of the changes happening with Windows Server 2016 licensing is that costs are based on physical core counts, instead of per-processor counts.) Other details are lacking. Ultimately, organizations are directed to their Microsoft account representative for more information.

Microsoft will be releasing a "Microsoft vs VMware TCO comparison tool," to help organizations estimate costs. It's not clear when it will be available. This total-cost-of-ownership tool calculates costs based on "Windows Server 2016 Datacenter, System Center 2016 Datacenter, and Operations Management Suite and VMware with vCloud Suite, vSAN, NSX, and vCloud Air Disaster Recovery," Microsoft's announcement indicated.

VMware released its own TCO analysis (PDF), concluding that its server virtualization technologies saved 91 percent in labor costs over Microsoft's technologies. However, Microsoft's announcement Wednesday said it was old analysis based on Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.

Microsoft is offering its Hyper-V switch deal prior to next week's VMworld event, which draws participants already geared toward using VMware's products. So far, Microsoft has converted "very few VMware customers," according to Gartner's publication. However, half of large enterprises also have some Hyper-V use, Gartner indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.