Microsoft, VMware Talk Up Lower Power Bills

Green Tech

Virtualization’s long been touted as a major way for enterprises to cut management, hardware and power costs while improving utilization. But it’s on this last point — the energy-savings angle — where enterprise giants like VMware and Microsoft are focusing much of their energy of late.

But while they’re both pushing virtualization as a key way to reduce datacenter power expenses, they’re — surprise, surprise — also not above taking shots at each other over which actually cuts more costs.

Virtualization leader VMware this week deployed a Web site that the company calls the VMware
Cost-Per-Application Calculator
. The calculator takes into account the relative cost of energy and rice of land on which a datacenter is built to deliver a dollar figure that signifies the savings in both that VMware (NYSE: VMW) virtualization can deliver.

In terms of the energy savings that software can deliver, however, Microsoft’s vision is broader than VMware’s. Of course, that chiefly because it’s got a larger focus as a software maker: When Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) talks cost savings, it presents virtualization as part of a larger strategy that
includes, of course, its Windows operating system.

In a presentation to the financial industry during last week’s seminar of the Wall Street Technology Association, Sally Baldauf, Microsoft industry market development manager for financial services, pointed out that the latest versions of the Windows operating system and the latest service pack of Windows Server 2008 turn power management on by default and enable group policies for power management.

Thus, the OS delivers power savings on the desktop as well as in the datacenter.

“Every 12 PCs in sleep mode are the equivalent of taking one car off the road,” Baldauf said. Depending on local energy costs, the savings could be $65 per PC per year, which is a lot of cash for enterprises with thousands or tens of thousands of PCs deployed.

The power savings she described are significant for enterprises of all sizes. Four standalone IIS7 servers could run at an average of 2000.40 watts, whereas on Hyper-V server running four IIS7 virtual machines would run at 517.66 watts. That’s a savings of 1,482.74 watts, or (approximately — your energy costs will vary) $1,187.99 per year. Larger enterprises with larger deployments would realize larger savings.

“Upgrade now,” she said. “Windows Server 2008 saves 10 percent energy use out of the box.”

Other companies are touting the cost savings and energy savings from the virtualization of other applications. You might think that identity management would need its own server, but Sailpoint this week released a virtualized identity management appliance.

Microsoft and VMware trade jabs

Of course, while the industry might be united in presenting virtualization as a key energy saver, it’s biggest players certainly aren’t above taking swipes at each other.

For instance, VMware’s price calculator is a clear dig at Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 and its Hyper-V virtualization technology — it compares VMware to Microsoft alone.

The online calculator debuted just two weeks after the release
of a Forrester study that confirmed VMware’s domination of the virtualization market, but said also that Microsoft could in the future gain market share, especially among small to midsized businesses.

Microsoft has responded to VMware
with a video, available here, saying that the Microsoft solution is one-third the cost of VMware’s.

Each side also accuses the other of making a false comparison. In its video, Microsoft says VMware neglects to account for the price of Microsoft licenses, and
VMware’s Timothy Stephan, senior director of competitive marketing for
VMware, told that Microsoft’s numbers fail to reflect the greater server density that VMware achieves.

During last week’s conference, Microsoft’s Baldauf also said that “compared to a competitor I won’t name,” her company’s product was cheaper and more advanced and capable of communicating directly with Windows device drivers.

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