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Study Shows Higher Costs and Complexity When Managing vSphere Using Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager

The idea of introducing multiple hypervisors into your data center and managing them seamlessly from a single tool might sound appealing, but in reality, products claiming that ability today can’t deliver on that promise.  You introduced virtual infrastructure to simplify operational tasks for your IT staff, so why would you want to handicap them with a management approach that adds costs and complexity?  A study recently completed by the Edison Group and commissioned by VMware shows that is exactly what you will be doing if you introduce Microsoft System Center 2012 Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) with the hopes of using it to manage VMware vSphere hosts.

Microsoft touts SCVMM as a heterogeneous management tool with the ability to manage VMware vSphere and Citrix XenServer hosts in addition to those running Hyper-V.  IT managers might find Microsoft’s claims that they can, “easily and efficiently manage… applications and services across multiple hypervisors,” enticing. The suggestion by Microsoft is clear: don’t worry about complicating the jobs of your system administrators by introducing Hyper-V into a VMware environment because SCVMM provides a do-everything single-pane-of-glass control panel. Are their claims true?  Can Microsoft SCVMM really let you operate a multi-hypervisor data center without the cost penalties that come with staffing, training for, and operating across the isolated islands of management that would otherwise exist?

To find the truth behind Microsoft’s promises, we asked Edison Group to test VMware vSphere in their labs using both vCenter and the vSphere Client and Microsoft SCVMM 2012 to complete a set of 11 typical management tasks.  Edison’s analysts used their Comparative Management Cost Study methodology to measure the labor costs and administrative complexity of each task.  The tasks Edison Group studied were those that any vSphere administrator performs on a regular basis, such as provisioning new vSphere hosts, deploying VMs, monitoring system health and performance, configuring virtual networks, etc.

Higher costs and complexity when managing vSphere with SCVMM 2012

The results were clear and conclusive – managing VMware vSphere is much more efficient using vCenter than when attempting to manage it with Microsoft SCVMM 2012.  To complete the 11 typical management tasks Edison Group tested took 36% less time and required 41% fewer steps using vCenter and the vSphere client compared to SCVMM 2012.

Figure 1 Managing vSphere using vCenter takes 36% less administrator time than with SCVMM 2012

Figure 2 vCenter management of vSphere requires 41% fewer steps than SCVMM 2012

Jack of some trades, master of none

It’s not hard to understand why vCenter and the vSphere Client make life so much easier for vSphere administrators. As my colleague Randy Curry wrote, Microsoft SCVMM 2012 just doesn’t do a very good job of enabling vSphere management.  SCVMM’s incomplete or missing support for even basic tasks forces administrators to constantly jump over to the vSphere Client to get any real work done.  Microsoft was apparently more interested in being able to “check the box” for multi-hypervisor management when they built SCVMM 2012 than they were in providing a truly usable vSphere management tool. As Edison Group said in their report (available here or here):

Managing hypervisors using tools that are not specifically optimized to control all aspects of their operations risks impairing reliability, elegance, and ease of management, with potential adverse impact on the bottom line. Creating a truly successful solution requires deep integration and expertise in development.

Adding different hypervisors? Proceed with caution.

Multi-hypervisor IT shops are a trend that may be growing, but don’t expect a simple single-pane-of-glass management experience if you bring in a different hypervisor.  The testing by Edison Group clearly shows that management costs and complexity will be substantially higher if you attempt to use a partially implemented heterogeneous management tool like Microsoft SCVMM 2012 to manage a vSphere infrastructure. We at VMware realize that operating a 100% vSphere environment is not always possible and we’ve recently introduced our own multi-hypervisor management features with vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager and vCloud Automation Center to accommodate those cases. Rather than positioning those solutions as enablers of permanent multi-hypervisor environments, we’re offering them to help our customers manage heterogeneous pools of infrastructure until they can migrate their workloads to a VMware platform where they can benefit from our exclusive software-defined datacenter capabilities.

If you’re weighing possible benefits of introducing a second hypervisor, you may want to take the advice of Gartner’s Chris Wolf and stick to a single hypervisor unless you want maintain and pay for separate islands of management:

Multi-hypervisor… has serious tradeoffs if it’s the end goal for the production server workloads in your data center. Additional hypervisors for one-off siloed initiatives is often practical, but becoming less standardized in your data centers is anything but efficient.

Chris Wolf repeated that message at a session on heterogeneous virtualization we attended at the recent Gartner Data Center Conference. In fact, he stated there that no Gartner clients have succeeded in adopting a single-pane-of-glass multi-hypervisor approach. That’s refreshingly frank advice that should be heeded by anyone lured by Microsoft’s promises of multiple hypervisor nirvana.

Flawed Logic Behind Microsoft’s Virtualization and Private Cloud Cost Comparisons

Microsoft has published a blog article claiming that VMware’s Cost-Per-Application Calculator admits VMware’s costs are higher.

VMware’s Cost-Per-Application calculator is designed to rebut Microsoft claims that Hyper-V is five to ten times cheaper. It shows that the acquisition cost with even VMware’s highest edition – vSphere Enterprise Plus is at parity with Microsoft and actually beats Microsoft for most configurations. For example, the blog shows a comparison result from the VMware calculator using servers that have 64GB RAM. A comparison using servers with 128GB RAM, the more common configuration, shows that the total cost with VMware is at parity with Microsoft.

When customers do cost comparisons for themselves, they’ll have to decide what is important to their deployment. Can they risk looking only at the initial licensing costs or is it important to plan for ongoing support and maintenance as well. VMware’s Cost-Per-Application calculator aids customers in comparing the total acquisition costs of a virtual infrastructure and not just the software cost.

VMware’s calculator takes a conservative approach by not including the support cost for Microsoft as Microsoft Premier Support is billed by the hour and the usage varies from customer to customer. Once the incremental support cost is added for Microsoft, the acquisition cost with VMware is at parity or less in all scenarios.

In addition, vSphere Enterprise Plus has far better functionality than Hyper-V as shown by the feature comparison table in the Cost-Per-Application calculator detailed results.

Following are the discrepancies in Microsoft’s claims. A fair cost comparison for virtualization and private cloud platform is also outlined below.

The incremental cost of Microsoft Premier Support  needs to be added to Microsoft’s total cost. VMware’s Support and Subscription Services (SNS) entitles a customer to not only all software releases and updates but also VMware’s Technical Support. Microsoft “Software Assurance” (SA) does not provide similar technical support access. Customers must either purchase “Premier Support” separately from Microsoft (at >$200 per hour) or use third party services.

The claim that Dynamic Memory improvements in Hyper-V 2012 will reduce the 20% VM density advantage VMware calculator assumes is unsupported. The improvement in “Dynamic Memory” that the blog refers to, is only a feature that allows host-level memory swapping during VM startup. VMware’s published third party tests that showed the 20% VM density advantage were based on running steady-state VM workloads and not VMs that were booting up. The steady state scenario is more representative of a production datacenter.

The VMware vSphere VM density advantage derives from its use of five levels of memory management technology.  Hyper-V 2012, like previous versions, continues to employ just “memory ballooning” and that limitation handicaps its VM density.

Once the incremental cost of Microsoft Premier Support is considered, Microsoft’s total costs are at parity even with VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus edition. Following comparison shows the cost of deploying 12 VMs/host for Microsoft and 14 VM/host for VMware for a 100 VM virtualization deployment using dual socket, 6-core servers with 128GB RAM.

Virtualization Platform: Acquisition cost comparison using VMware vSphere and Microsoft Windows Hyper-V 2012

Next, let’s take a look at the private cloud solution stack comparison suggested by Microsoft to point out the flaws in their analysis.

vFabric APM and Service Manager costs need to be excluded for VMware. It seems Microsoft wasn’t paying attention when VMware announced the “Extension of Cloud Management Capabilities with vCloud Suite Updates” in October 2012. Monitoring of operating systems, web servers, application servers, mail servers, database, messaging middleware, network, virtualization platform and application platform is now included in VMware vCloud Suite Enterprise. In addition, vCloud Suite Enterprise also includes vCloud Automation Center that automates several cloud delivery services across private and public clouds.

The additional costs a customer has to incur with 3rd party solutions given the lack of various critical features in the Microsoft stack needed to be added. In addition, the total acquisition cost, beyond the cost of software licenses only, needs to be considered. Following is an estimation of the additional cost to acquire missing functionalities from 3rd parties.

(The3rd party products are examples of equivalent technology only and do not imply support for Window Hyper-V.)

Following is a cost comparison for a private cloud deployment for 100 VMs using dual socket, 6-core servers with 128GB RAM.

Private Cloud: Acquisition cost comparison using VMware vCloud Suite vs. Windows-based Private Cloud

Finally, VMware vCloud Suite is designed and built for virtual and cloud infrastructures and is far more efficient, reliable and robust compared to Microsoft Windows based private cloud solution.

The Microsoft blog is yet another attempt to artificially inflate VMware’s prices and distract customers from the shortcomings of their own products.



VMware Delivers on vCloud Suite and vSphere 5.1 and Further Raises the Bar for Virtualization and Private Cloud Innovations

Today is an exciting day for VMware and for all our customers. The new vCloud Suite 5.1 and vSphere 5.1 products announced just two weeks ago at VMworld are now available for download. With these new releases, VMware customers can build even more agile, efficient and reliable datacenters.

VMware vCloud Suite is the most comprehensive solution for the Software-Defined Datacenter. It extends the benefits of virtualization to other aspects of infrastructure such as storage, networking, security and availability. By abstracting and pooling the underlying hardware, vCloud Suite enables customers to better utilize their hardware resources, provision datacenter services on demand and manage their environments using policy-driven automation. Customers can thus respond faster to their business needs while delivering the highest service levels for their applications. vCloud Suite also simplifies purchasing by integrating VMware’s virtualization, cloud infrastructure and management portfolio into a single SKU, priced per CPU with no limits on provisioned virtual memory or virtual machines.

vSphere 5.1, the foundation of vCloud Suite, also comes with over 100 enhancements and new features to deliver the highest performance and availability for all applications. Every vSphere 5.1 edition now comes with much more capabilities and value. Key enhancements include more powerful VMs, features to avoid unplanned downtimes and robust networking capabilities. vSphere 5.1 supports VMs with up to 64 vCPUs, enhanced vMotion to enable live migration without any shared storage, new vSphere Data Protection powered by EMC Avamar, vSphere replication for cost-effective disaster recovery, vShield endpoint for efficient VM security and enhanced vSphere Distributed Switch for simplified deployment and management of virtual networks.

Customers across the board, SMBs or Enterprises, can start deploying these capabilities right away. If we take a look at competitive offerings, there are several promises made which are yet to be realized, keeping prospective users waiting. For example, to use most of the features of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V, customers need System Center 2012 SP1, which is only in beta and several months away from release. Microsoft is making customers wait even longer for features that have been promised for over a year now.

Once again, VMware has extended its leadership in providing customers an agile, reliable and cost-effective cloud infrastructure. I encourage every customer to download vSphere 5.1, upgrade to vCloud Suite and take advantage of the new features and capabilities available to them. Customers can be assured that VMware engineers are already hard at work on, our next vSphere and vCloud releases to continue delivering the innovative solutions our customers need and expect from us.

VMworld 2012: Real Customers, Real Momentum (Thursday)

It’s the last day of VMworld 2012. The customer stories continue with Cardinal Health, Green Mountain Power Corporation, Northwestern University, Warner Bros, NYSE Technologies, and Boeing sharing their deployments of VMware products. However, I thought we could talk about one last company using VMware-based clouds – and that is VMware!

OneCloud is an internal private cloud built on vSphere and vCloud Director. It originally started as a way for VMware technical sales to demonstrate the capabilities of vCloud Director and other VMware solutions to customers. It now serves as the IaaS cloud for many departments within VMware including R&D, education, and corporate IT. VMware IT has also deployed vFabric Application Director internally to streamline application provisioning. They have seen a 90% improvement in workload provisioning time and significant opex savings while delivering a more scalable, more adaptive cloud environment for users within VMware.

It’s been an exhilarating (and exhausting!) week at VMworld 2012. The community has been amazing and hearing these customers explain their deployments of VMware products has been highly educational. Now it’s back to work and getting ready for VMworld Europe. See you in Barcelona!

VMworld 2012: Real Customers, Real Momentum (Wednesday)

Another day, another long list of customers presenting at VMworld today – including Medtronic, Boeing, American Express, Northrup Grumman, iLand, and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store. For a change of pace, instead of providing an overview of all of them, I will go deeper into one particular customer’s use of VMware products.

FedEx – the global shipping and logistics company – has added almost 12,000 VMs to their global datacenter infrastructure in the last 18 months with a self-service delivery model built on vSphere and vCloud Director. Their environment consists of mostly Linux VMs running Java applications. FedEx originally adopted virtualization relying on custom-designed scripts for operations management. However, it was clear that this model could not scale well given their fast growth.  As their virtual environment grew (~700 VMs a month) they quickly outgrew their scripts; Applying single threaded scripts to thousands of VMs took several minutes. The team has now adopted vCenter Orchestrator to help streamline their end-to-end provisioning processes and are continuing their progress towards a fully automated private cloud.

Right here, right now, customers are deploying VMware-based clouds.


VMworld 2012: Real Customers, Real Momentum (Tuesday)

The first full day of VMworld 2012 is done, but the customer stories and successes continue today. As the theme goes…Right Here, Right Now.

Proven, Trusted Virtualization Platform

  • The City and County of San Francisco will discuss their use of vSphere and the path they are on to be 100% virtualized.
  • Apparatus will be sharing how they use vCenter Operations Management to transform their management of virtual/cloud infrastructure

Virtualizing Business Critical Apps on vSphere

  • Intuit, the maker of Quickbooks and Mint.com, will be sharing how they rolled out virtual firewalls using software-defined security solutions that are a part of newly announced vCloud Networking and Security.
  • Bluelock is back to demonstrate how they use PowerShell to deploy and automate their vCloud Director environment quickly and reliably.
  • Bull SAS, a VMware partner, will share the story of how they helped their customer virtualize their Oracle Weblogic environment on vSphere

Proven Private, Public, and Hybrid Clouds

  • Deutsche Telekom and it’s subsidiary T-Systems, the newest vCloud Datacenter Services partner, will be sharing their public cloud service based on the VMware vSphere and vCloud Director products.
  • Symantec, NCR, Northwestern University, and Mentor Graphics are all speaking in a panel to share their VMware-based cloud stories and experiences, and best practices.

VMworld 2012: Real Customers, Real Momentum

Welcome to a weeklong special edition of Virtual Reality – live from VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, California. It’s going to be an amazing week for the VMware community with numerous opportunities to network, learn, and interact with each other. As the importance and attendance of VMworld has grown, we know (and expect) our competitors will try to grab the limelight as they have in the past. Despite suggestions of slowing down, there is no way to avoid one of the most amazing things about VMworld this year – the sheer number of customers who will be sharing their VMware success stories this week. Each day, I will highlight the customers who are here to talk about their virtualization and cloud successes using VMware products. They include Fortune 500, midsize and small companies, leading educational institutions, and government agencies, and all of the stories will come directly from the customers themselves. That is real momentum.

Monday Sessions


  • General Mills, one of the world’s largest food companies and owner of Pillsbury, Green Giant, Cheerios, and Betty Crocker brands, will be presenting their experiences virtualizing Microsoft Exchange 2010 on vSphere 5.
  • Indiana University, a leading research and teaching institution, will be sharing how they’ve been able to rapidly virtualize its enterprise-class Oracle database systems with VMware vSphere.


  • Autodesk and CSC have deployed vShield Endpoint in their datacenter, delivering agentless security with offloaded anti-virus and anti-malware processing.


  • Lufthansa, eMix, StarAlliance, Columbia Sportswear, eMeter (a Siemens business), and IPsoft will be part of a super panel that will share their cloud use cases and deployment outcomes. These VMware customers will also answer audience questions about their infrastructure must haves, security, provider selection, and results.
  • Symantec, DST Systems, and McKesson will be part of another panel sharing how they’ve successfully used vCloud Director to deliver complete and isolated infrastructure to software developers and testers in lab management environments.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration developed the federal government’s first secure hybrid community cloud based on VMware vSphere, vCloud Director and vShield. YOURcloud is based on the award-winning innovations in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Infrastructure On-Demand (IoD) cloud platform.
  • Oxford University will be showcasing their real world vCloud DR solution built with SRM in conjunction with vSphere PowerCLI to automate the end-to-end recovery of a vCloud Director-based infrastructure.
  • Bluelock, a VMware vCloud Datacenter Services partner, will be sharing how they mapped an evolutionary path to a fully virtualized datacenter with VMware solutions.

And that’s just Monday! Stay tuned for what’s in store on Tuesday!

The Monday Morning Mashup: Getting Beyond “Hyper-V because It’s Free”, “Fed-Up VMware Fires Back”

A blog series for VMware champions and customers


Getting Beyond “Hyper-V because It’s Free!”

Microsoft’s #1 message for why customers should evaluate Hyper-V is “it’s free” or “it’s much cheaper than VMware.” When asked, I’ve always encouraged customers to examine the facts for themselves based on their specific business needs and figure out what the real overall cost will be for that specific customer at the end of the day.

Therefore, it was very refreshing to see someone else go beyond Microsoft’s superficial “It’s Free!” slogan. TechTarget recently published a 4-part series on comparing the cost of VMware vs. Microsoft. While TechTarget calls out some areas of concern about VMware's pricing and costs, it’s also abundantly clear from their analysis that Microsoft’s virtualization and cloud offering is not free. Take a look at their analysis for yourself.

Ultimately, customers need to look at a more holistic, total picture of cost, beyond the upfront virtualization license acquisition cost, and factor in other important cost components, such as management license costs, support costs, operational costs, and impact from virtual machine density differences.

p.s. TechTarget is running several readers poll as part of their series. As of Monday morning, it’s nice to see VMware well ahead in several of the results.

Best_value_hypervisor Better_private_cloud

CRN article: “Fed-Up VMware Fires Back At Microsoft's Virtualization Trash Talk"

CRN noticed the new “Get the Facts” webpage and wrote an article on it. If you haven’t seen it yet, “Get the Facts” is a new resource for VMware champions and customers to hear from VMware about competitive claims. Check it out when you get a chance: http://www.vmware.com/getthefacts

p.s. And speaking of being fed-up, here is one user’s experience working with Hyper-V Server 2012 RC… “Standalone Hyper-V is too painful to use


“One today is worth two tomorrows” – Benjamin Franklin

Amid all of the talk of Windows Server 2012 and the coming release of Hyper-V, it can get awfully confusing about what is actually here today and what is coming in the future. Well, let’s clear that up a bit.

SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE: General availability of Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V.

SOME TIME IN THE FURTHER FUTURE: A release of System Center 2012 that will support all of the new features in Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V.

TODAY: As part of the Cloud Computing World Forum being held in London this week, VMware vSphere 5 was selected Best Virtualization Solution in the 2012 Cloud Computing World Series. Like the many other awards won by vSphere over the years, this award helps validate vSphere as the market-leading, most proven and trusted virtualization platform available.

TODAY: Real customers are running vSphere 5 in production. For example:

TODAY: Real customers, representing various industries and company sizes, are running real private, public, and hybrid clouds on vSphere and vCloud Director.

Ducati Ducati Runs Their Private Cloud on VMware:
“Private cloud is already a reality in Ducati. Over our private cloud, we supply services to all our commercial subsidiaries. We supply services to our assembly plant in Thailand or to our racing team at racing venues. So private cloud is already a reality.” –Daniel Bellini, CIO, Ducati Motor Holding
  CharlesRiverLabs Charles River Labs Deploys a Business-Critical App in a VMware Hybrid Cloud:
“I see Cloud being key to our overall strategy moving forward. The days of us investing heavily all of our capital into building hardware and infrastructure are past now. With the options that are available now from cloud partners, they bring agility, flexibility and in some case cost savings as well, for using that model." –Steven Spiers, CTO, Charles River Labs
NDI National Democratic Institute Gains Application Reusability with a VMware Hybrid Cloud:
“VMware vCloud Director helps us better serve our users, including those in developing countries. We can configure virtual servers, point to URLs, and fire up applications within a matter of minutes. It’s less costly for us and less time-consuming, and because it’s a virtualized deployment, the hosting costs are also low.” — Chris Spence, Chief Technology Officer, National Democratic Institute
Oxford Oxford University Delivers DBaaS with a VMware Hybrid Cloud:
“Access to information is critical to maintain our position as the world’s top university and we needed a flexible, scalable infrastructure. After doing our own research, we decided a Hybrid Cloud as best suited to our requirements. The vCloud datacentre service combined with Colt’s pedigree in information delivery, was the natural choice for us.” –Dr. Stuart Lee, Director of IT, University of Oxford

For more stories on how customers are going to the cloud with VMware (today), visit Another VMware Cloud and the Public Cloud Diaries.

vSphere and vCloud Director are battle-tested solutions supporting some of the world’s most important and challenging workloads. As proven cloud solutions, the list of companies using VMware for the cloud continues to grow, making today a reality and tomorrow come a lot sooner.


The Monday Morning Mashup: VMware at Microsoft TechEd, New “Get the Facts” Webpage, Why Customers Chose VMware

A blog series for VMware champions and customers


VMware at Microsoft TechEd this Week

The VMware business critical applications team is exhibiting at Microsoft TechEd in Hot-lando, Florida, this week. They are there to connect with the many satisfied VMware-Microsoft customers who’ve virtualized their Windows and Microsoft applications on VMware vSphere and VMware View. In our last annual customer survey, greater than 50% of all SQL and Exchange instances in VMware customers are already virtualized on VMware, and 70% of SharePoint instances are virtualized. The percentages keeps going higher and higher every year!

If you’ll be at TechEd this week, come and visit the VMware team at the TechExpo booth 2137.


Get the Facts, Not the Microsoft Hyper-bole

When you’re the leader, everyone else compares themselves to you and claims about you. To all the VMware champions out there, there’s a new place to go to hear from VMware about these competitive claims. http://www.vmware.com/getthefacts/microsoft


Companies Share Why They Chose VMware

Want to hear why companies big and small continue to choose VMware? Check out these recent customer case studies where customers share their reasons for choosing VMware after evaluating other offerings.

Acxiom (6,000 employees)

“After researching virtualization vendors, Acxiom choose VMware due to the maturity of VMware’s solution portfolio. ‘We looked at all the add-on features and saw that, hands down, VMware offers the most complete and robust set of offerings—including VMware vShield™, since security is so important to us,’ says Brandon Nelson, Acxiom Team Leader and Systems Engineer.”

NYSE Euronext (3000 employees)

“…prior to architecting its Capital Markets Community Platform, the company analyzed available solutions to validate its selection of virtualization technology. The VMware cloud infrastructure suite emerged as the clear winner on every criterion NYSE Technologies identified. It is the world’s leading virtualization layer. All of the company’s major clients are comfortable with VMware. And VMware’s vision—to enable highly reliable infrastructure environments for mission-critical applications, along with complete user self-service access—dovetailed with NYSE Technologies’ vision for its new cloud offering.”

SEGA Europe (3000 employees)

“When deciding upon our cloud strategy we felt it was crucial to use an environment we were familiar with end-to-end. We were already very happy and comfortable with VMware technology, and because of its standardised cloud approach and the close integration with COLT which has such a wide data centre footprint globally, we had the perfect fit.” –Francis Hart, Systems Architect, Sega Europe

Myron F. Steves and Company (200 employees)

“The first virtualization platform they tested was Microsoft Hyper-V. They found the technology cumbersome. ‘It took us a month to get it working,’ says Tim Moudry, Associate Director of IT, Myron Steves, adding that a high-maintenance solution wasn’t an option. ‘Ten years ago, we had around 13 IT people on staff. Today we have six, and we’re supporting the same number of employees.’ Then they tried VMware vSphere. ‘Within two days, it was fully functional,’ Moudry notes.”

ParetoLogic (150 employees)

“’We considered other server virtualization platforms during our exploratory process,’ Brian Vizina, IT Manager at ParetoLogic says, ‘but security is a big concern for us and we felt that the secure foundation on which VMware’s ESXi platform is built upon, the ease of deployment and management, plus the number of applications per host density VMware offers made them the obvious choice,’ Brian also stated, ‘VMware is the brand that large and medium-size companies—in serious need of reliable virtual systems—choose. Beyond that, VMware solutions present remarkable benefits and are proven to be easy to integrate with most existing IT platforms.’”