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Why hypervisor lock-in is an advantage for VMware View

VMware locks its customers into the ESX hypervisor -- but the lack of diversity may be a good thing for the vendor and its users.

VMware only supports the ESX hypervisor. Is this lack of product diversity a good or bad thing for the vendor and enterprises? We had our experts look at two different sides of the debate. Decide for yourself if you want to be locked in to VMware View.


Why does VMware lock customers into the ESX hypervisor when other vendors don't? This question was asked several times at BriForum 2010, a conference put on by Brian Madden and TechTarget that featured some of the most knowledgeable people in desktop virtualization.

I wonder why an industry that claims that VMware View is not ready for prime time consistently asks the company to do more and support more than it's good at. When I consider this question from a VMware perspective, the reasons I come up with are:

  • Why would we -- VMware -- want to support any other hypervisor when vSphere is the undisputed hypervisor leader from a performance and feature perspective?


  • Our customer base has not asked it to support anything else.

I think both points are valid. In terms of customer install base and feature functionality, vSphere is the No. 1 hypervisor. In addition, if you ask VMware customers if they want anything besides vSphere behind View, most -- if not all -- would say no.

Furthermore, consider VMware's lock-in approach from an industry perspective. Why would the company want to expand its support of back-end hypervisors if it's still working to mature the View product line? If VMware tried to add support for Citrix XenServer or Microsoft Hyper-V, then the company wouldn't be placing its full engineering, technical and support efforts into making its products as solid as possible.

In addition, when has vendor lock-in been a detriment for a major technology company? It has worked for Microsoft, Oracle, EMC, IBM and many others. To create a platform that is based on your own industry-leading technology forces the consultant or customer to make a decision. Vendor flexibility can be delivered by support of multiple technologies, or it can be delivered by a mature one. This has been proven by server virtualization: It is a fairly simple to migrate from vSphere to XenServer and back via multiple methods.

Many analysts have stated that virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is still in its infancy. Before any IT organization complains about the fact that VMware is based upon vSphere for the hypervisor, we should remember that there are plenty of other connection broker solutions. As of today, it appears that Citrix and VMware -- the big two -- will stay the front runners for a long time, so anyone with either vendor's technologies can be assured of future enhancements that will keep the products competitive with one another.

SEE ALSO Read why hypervisor lock-in may be a problem for VMware

Brad Maltz is CTO of International Computerware, a national consulting firm focused on virtualization and storage technologies. He holds certifications from VMware and EMC for many technologies. Maltz can be reached at for any questions, comments or suggestions.

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