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A few days ago, I wrote about how Microsoft and VMware were reaching feature parity on the ability to move “live” VM’s from one host to another, and that the real test for virtualization was who could deliver the best value and return to the business.

Well, it turns out Microsoft’s Live Migration feature won’t be available unti 2010, so we have a while to wait. My first reaction was, “well, that sucks for Microsoft.” However, as I thought more about it, I don’t think it’s such a big deal after all.

Motion, motion, who’s got the motion?

From a feature perspective, VMware can move a VM from one host to another in a few milliseconds – if you satisfy a lot of very specific technical requirements for near-identical hardware.

Microsoft’s current “Quick Migration” capability suspends a VM, moves it to a new host, and resumes the session about 6 seconds later. The underlying hardware doesn’t have to be near-identical.

Is Microsoft’s Quick Migration fast enough? Depends on the application. In some use cases, 6 seconds is too slow, but I’d venture that 6 seconds is fast enough for most of the apps the typical IT department manages. And, in any case, it is significantly better than the physical world.

The bottom line: I don’t doubt this (very) technical feature will be a deciding factor for certain availability-critical applications & systems, but I think Quick Migration will be sufficient for most circumstances.

Business value trumps technical coolness

So – that means we’re back to a battle over delivering strong business value. Today, there are a lot of arguments floating around about whose virtualization platform is cheaper, better, etc.

The cost of the platform is not the primary factor in the equation, in my opinion – it’s the ease of incorporating the platform into your IT operations in a beneficial, effective way. And when it comes to costs, management an operational costs will trump the cost of your virtualization platform in no time at all.

In this area, I (currently) give Microsoft the edge because they can (already) manage physical and virtual infrastructure, and have broader support for cross-silo IT operations and application management than any other virtualization vendor.

What do you think? Is a “one stop” solution like Microsoft better for your business than what you get from a virtualization specialist like VMware? Would love to hear your perspective.

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