VMware denies Microsoft gained market share at its expense

Recent IDC report causes protest

VMware Inc. officials have objected to an assertion by IDC that VMware has lost some of its industry-leading market share to Microsoft Corp., claiming instead that Microsoft's new Hyper-V product has barely made a dent in sales in the short time it's been available.

IDC stated last week that VMware's share of new x86 virtualization software shipments was 44% in the second quarter, with Microsoft clocking in at 23%.

IDC attributed Microsoft's growth to the general availability of Hyper-V, a notion at which VMware officials scoffed. Hyper-V was made generally available on June 26, meaning only a few business days were left in the second quarter, Mike DiPetrillo, a principal systems engineer at VMware, wrote in a blog post that analyzes the IDC report.

"So did Hyper-V really ship enough units in two days to get 23% market share? I doubt it," DiPetrillo wrote.

DiPetrillo accused IDC of basing the 23% figure on OEMs' unit shipments, but this does not appear to be true. The IDC survey did examine OEM vendors, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc., that offer servers that have already been virtualized. But that was a separate comparison, and there's no indication in IDC's report that the VMware/Microsoft market share comparison was limited to OEM sales. IDC analyst Brett Waldman explained IDC's methodology in a phone interview Wednesday, saying the analyst firm determined market share by surveying more than 2,500 virtualization users from 35 countries, examining public filings and having conversations with vendors. IDC's user survey looked at all new server virtualization licenses, regardless of whether they were sold through OEMs or other sources, he said.

On DiPetrillo's point that Hyper-V has been generally available only since June 26, Waldman said, numerous Microsoft customers were using Hyper-V in production before then through an early adoption program. In fact, most of Microsoft's virtualization market share comes from its pre-existing product, Virtual Server 2005, but Waldman said he expects Hyper-V's market share to continue rising.

DiPetrillo also questioned how IDC counted shipments of Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005, given that it is a free download off Microsoft's Web site. Waldman said the IDC survey only counted new licenses if they were actually put into production.

Waldman denied another assertion by DiPetrillo, who claimed the IDC survey -- which is part of the firm's Worldwide Quarterly Server Virtualization Tracker -- was sponsored by a "competitor in Redmond" -- i.e., Microsoft.

"The Server Virtualization Tracker is not a sponsored product. It is available on a subscription basis to all of our clients," Waldman said.

DiPetrillo, in a phone interview, said VMware didn't subscribe to the Server Virtualization Tracker and thus was not given a chance to offer input before numbers were published. "IDC has never contacted VMware for its actual shipment numbers," DiPetrillo said.

The subscriptions essentially are the same as a sponsorship, he argued. But DiPetrillo acknowledged he doesn't know for a fact that Microsoft subscribed.

In his blog, DiPetrillo also claimed that IDC failed to count usage of VMware Server, a freely downloadable product. This appears to be untrue, as IDC specifically stated that VMware's market share includes both the ESX hypervisor and VMware Server. DiPetrillo said, "I'll be happy to post corrections on the blog if there are corrections to be made."

DiPetrillo's blog states that it contains his personal opinions, and the blog is not hosted by VMware, nor was it vetted by anyone at the company.

Some VMware spokesmen urged a reporter to read his blog post, however, and said VMware disagrees with IDC's findings.

"Our own data leads us to believe that VMware's unit market share is much higher than the IDC numbers, and that competitor market share is much lower," a VMware spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail to Network World.

Another VMware spokesman said the company won't say exactly how much market share it believes it has, saying "we don't publicly comment on market share." The spokesman questioned the IDC survey, though, saying a pool of 2,500 respondents may not be a representative sample. VMware has more than 120,000 customers. The spokesman also said the idea that Hyper-V gained significant market share after only being available a few days during the second quarter is "questionable."

VMware this week reported better-than-expected third-quarter financial results, with revenue 32% higher than last year's period. VMware CEO Paul Maritz nevertheless announced a hiring freeze and other changes to help VMware survive the economic downturn, but he also dismissed the notion that VMware is losing any substantial market share to rival Microsoft.

"We did not see any major losses to Microsoft," Maritz said, according to a transcript of the third-quarter earnings conference call. "Currently, we take Microsoft very seriously and keep our eyes very closely focused on them. ... Despite the series of announcements over the last quarter, Microsoft is still behind in terms of their product road map and we do not see them catching up to us until the next 12 to 24 months."

When market share is counted by revenue, there is no contest between Microsoft and VMware. Microsoft, whose virtualization products are free or almost-free, has 1.1% of revenue share and VMware has 78%, according to IDC.

This story, "VMware denies Microsoft gained market share at its expense" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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