After months of events, campaigning, and horn tooting, we’ll soon see the results of one of this year’s hardest-fought battles. Two contenders—one that's new and touts a fresh perspective; the other born to a heritage of authority and adorned with expectations of greatness—are striving for the same goal: to be your organization’s virtualization hypervisor.

That’s right; we’re not talking about Barack Obama and John McCain. It's Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware ESX Server that are going head to head, without any thrilling (and not-so-thrilling) speeches and forgoing the use of cosmetics on farm animals (at least, let’s hope so). With both products’ hypervisors now available for free and a Microsoft veteran at VMware’s helm, we can only guess what’s next in this race to be the best. But for me, at the time of writing this article, I’m preparing to witness the final round of this fight: a throw-down in Denver—a competition of pure performance—from which only one competitor will walk away a winner. (OK, so it’s a local event and the user group organizing it prefers the term “neutral comparison,” but I still expect there to be a duel to the death—or at least an exchange of unkind words. )

Hype aside, the competition between ESX Server and Hyper-V will continue far beyond the Denver event. Even after your organization has made the move to virtualization, you’ll need to deal with virtual machine sprawl, security, and single-point-of-failure difficulties. Avoid being trampled in the virtualization race and those running in (or from) it by equipping yourself with the library of information on WindowsITPro.com, from product reviews to expert commentaries. Read what the Hyper-V camp says about its candidate in Paul Thurrott’s web-exclusive article “Microsoft Finally Details Standalone Hyper-V” (InstantDoc ID 100238). For background on ESX Server, see Alan Sugano’s web-exclusive “VMware Infrastructure Starter Package” (InstantDoc ID 97037).

For a side-by-side comparison of the products, you can't beat Michael Otey’s two-part “Virtualization Shootout” (InstantDoc IDs 98879 and 99248). To stay up-to-date on virtualization, subscribe to the Virtualization UPDATE e-newsletter for monthly news and developments and join the virtualization forum for tips from your peers.

Stay tuned for results from the “neutral comparison” in Denver. I’m Your Savvy Assistant, and I approve this message.