The Virtualization Room


May 26, 2009  1:42 PM

Virtualization: Why Microsoft cares

Craig Hatmaker Craig Hatmaker Profile: Craig Hatmaker

Have you ever wondered why Microsoft cares so much about server virtualization? After all, it’s only a software representation of a physical machine.

Microsoft has been very content over the last nearly 30 years letting the likes of Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM build physical servers with nary a care. When VMware introduced commodity server virtualization back in 1999, Microsoft hardly batted an eye. So what’s happened to make Microsoft not only care, but care enough to invest millions of dollars into their own server virtualization solution?

It’s all about control.

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May 5, 2009  7:38 PM

Get virtual with Sid Smith

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

Looking for another expert perspective on server virtualization? Sid Smith, who runs the Daily Hypervisor, now has a new blog here on IT Knowledge Exchange.

Virtualization with Sid Smith will focus on the storage, networking and other issues related to deploying and managing VMware, Hyper-V and Xen environments. His first post is about upgrading from ESX to vSphere.

In addition to writing for two blogs, Smith is also a senior systems engineer with VIRTERA, a New York-based solutions provider, and the author of an upcoming book on virtualization. He’s been working in virtualization for nearly a decade, so check out what he has to say.


May 5, 2009  7:36 PM

VMware engineers caution IT pros: Use Fault Tolerance sparingly

Bridget Botelho Bridget Botelho Profile: Bridget Botelho

One of the most anticipated features in the next version of VMware Virtual Infrastructure, vSphere, is Fault Tolerance, but VMware engineers caution IT pros to use it sparingly.

During the New England VMware User Group meeting in Newport, RI on April 30, VMware engineers who gave a session called “What’s Next for VMware Virtual Infrastructure” said not to use the upcoming fault tolerance (FT) feature as a general replacement for High Availability because it requires more resources. Instead, only use it where absolutely no downtime can be tolerated.

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May 5, 2009  2:52 PM

Microsoft: With vSphere, now we’re even cheaper than VMware!

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

Microsoft is nothing if not persistent.

The folks up in Redmond have fired yet ANOTHER salvo against VMware. This time it’s in the form of a blog post by Edwin Yuen, the senior technical product manager for Microsoft’s integrated virtualization team. (You may know him as “Laughing Guy” from the now-notorious “Microsoft Mythbusters” video.)

Microsoft has always said VMware is more expensive than Hyper-V, and Yuen uses the upcoming release of vSphere 4 to drive that point home even further in his post, “VMware vSphere pricing – Meet the new price; same as the old price, only more.”

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May 4, 2009  5:33 PM

Microsoft TechEd, virtualization and you

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

Windows 7 is supposed to be the star of next week’s Microsoft TechEd show in L.A., but the conference will also have a ton of stuff for all you virtualization users out there.

Some sessions will focus on Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V R2, System Center Virtual Machine Manager R2 and other products. Others will cover cloud computing, green IT and more hot topics in virtualization. I’ve just gone through the entire agenda to set my schedule, and I’ve picked out what look to be some of the most interesting sessions:


May 1, 2009  6:31 PM

The VMware User Group: A boys club

Bridget Botelho Bridget Botelho Profile: Bridget Botelho

I attended the New England VMware Users Group meeting in Newport, RI on Thursday, and as usual, I was one of only a small handful of women there.

We Can Do ItSure, the whole tech industry is male dominated, but it seems even more so at VMware events, where the females stick out like sore thumbs and get stirred at like alien beings on a foreign planet.

My “outsider” paranoia was made poignantly clear when the older gentleman sitting beside me during lunch asked out of sincere curiosity, “So, why do you write about technology? Wouldn’t you rather be writing about fashion or something?”

My imaginary response was “Why, Yes! I would also love to spend my days writing about the latest additions to the My Little Pony collection and playing with Barbie dolls.” In reality, I was too insulted to think of anything witty to say, and was trapped in a flashback to when my brothers told me I couldn’t play G.I. Joes because I’m a girl.

With that, I made it my mission to speak to almost all of the women at the event about what they do and their virtualization projects. Which means I spoke to three women.

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May 1, 2009  2:04 PM

Face-Off: VMware vs. Microsoft in the hypervisor wars

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele
The great virtualization debate: VMware vs. Microsoft

Ken Cline and Dave Sobel take sides in the hypervisor wars.

Ken Cline Ken Cline

I hear the sabers rattling already! The selection of a hypervisor borders on religion — and with good reason. The hypervisor you choose to deploy in your data center is the foundation of your computing infrastructure. If your hypervisor fails, your datacenter stops.

There are three hypervisor vendors offering mainstream products: Citrix (XenServer), Microsoft (Hyper-V) and VMware (VMware Infrastructure). Each has devoted followers who believe their product of choice is “the best”. Well, I’m here to set the record straight once and for all: VMware has the most mature, most robust solution offering available, bar none.

Microsoft has a long way to go before it’s a true competitor to VMware. Citrix is almost there, but keep in mind that both Microsoft and Citrix have just completed a product refresh. VMware is on the cusp of releasing some amazing new technologies that will widen the gap between first and second place. Don’t believe me? Ask Cisco. Who did Cisco decide to team with for its Unified Computing System? I’ll give you a hint: It wasn’t Microsoft, and it wasn’t Citrix.

Yes, you can install Hyper-V or XenServer onto the Cisco UCS, but the out-of-the-box solution is based on VMware vSphere (the next release of VMware Infrastructure). I don’t think Cisco would have bet the company on anything less than the best-of-breed solution, do you?
Your hypervisor is your datacenter and your path to the future. Who do you trust to take you into the next generation of virtualization? Let’s look at each company individually and see where they are — and where their future focus is:

Citrix grew up as an application delivery company. Its specialty has been, currently is and will continue to be the enhancement of application delivery on top of Microsoft technologies. Yes, it is dabbling in virtualization with XenServer, but that’s not its bread and butter. Citrix exec Phil Montgomery even said last year that “Citrix is not a virtualization company. We’re not trying to be another VMware.”

Microsoft wants to be everything to everybody: your operating system provider, your application provider, your cloud provider and now your hypervisor provider, too. Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket! Now, imagine a piece of malware (or heaven forbid a bug) attacks a core function of Windows Server 2008. Not only do you lose the operating system that supports your applications, you lose the hypervisor that supports your operating systems! Additionally, Hyper-V is just now getting close to where ESX was in 2003. Will Microsoft develop comparable features? Yes. The question is when.

VMware has been focused on virtualization since the company was founded in 1998. Its specialty is core infrastructure services. They’re not an afterthought or a distraction. The company has a track record of innovation in virtualization technologies that is unmatched. And its future, take a look — it’s amazing!

If I were a betting man, I know where my money would be.

Ken Cline is a virtualization architect and blogger for the SearchServerVirtualization Blog and Ken’s Virtual Reality.

Dave Sobel Dave Sobel

With Windows Server 2008, Microsoft created a new virtualization hypervisor called Hyper-V and moved the virtualization layer beneath even the host operating system.

Now functioning as an integrated role as part of Server 2008, Hyper-V creates a bubble under all the operating systems, including the host operating system. Thus, Hyper-V now manages the entire stack.

Hyper-V adds the ability to do migration from one physical host to another, as well as support for 64-bit operating systems over previous Microsoft offerings. Microsoft also offers Hyper-V not only as part of Windows Server 2008, but as a standalone, command-line-driven product called Hyper-V Server.

Additionally, Hyper-V is supported in Server Core, allowing a stripped-down Windows Server 2008 environment for virtualization. Microsoft clearly gives you the flexibility to deploy how you want.

Hyper-V is available as a role within Server 2008. In the data center, it’s only several clicks away from being on any server. With support for clustering, highly available virtualization platforms are easy to create, and the R2 release will offer live migration, making the Microsoft offering as strong as any hypervisor on the market.

Microsoft has made licensing favorable for its own Hyper-V platform and now offers dozens of its products supported in its hypervisor. By selecting Microsoft, you know Microsoft-based applications are being tested on the platform.

Microsoft offers a familiar interface for management, leveraging the Microsoft Management Console as the mechanism to manage the hypervisor. This is a key advantage, because it makes the process of managing a Hyper-V-based system is familiar and known to those with experience managing any Microsoft system.

By integrating into a known management interface, Hyper-V users can take advantage of familiar interfaces and processes, along with comparable features to any hypervisor on the market.

Microsoft also continues its efforts around offering superior training, technical resources and sales and marketing support. The Microsoft Partner Program remains the strongest in the market, and Microsoft delivers all the materials necessary.

Hyper-V offers everything needed to virtualize any workload. It’s simple to set up, use and manage. Microsoft also offers a rich and robust management set, both with the built-in MMC snap-ins and the System Center suite of management tools.

System Center Virtual Machine Manager, dedicated to the management of both Hyper-V and VMWare workloads, is a single console for management.

And System Center rounds out the rest of the offering with products like Data Protection Manager for backups, Configuration Manager for deployment and Operations Manager for ongoing support.

Dave Sobel is CEO of Evolve Technologies and author of “Virtualization: Defined. A Primer for the SMB Consultant.”


May 1, 2009  12:43 PM

Virtualization: The swine flu cure?

Craig Hatmaker Craig Hatmaker Profile: Craig Hatmaker

Why virtualize? There are many reasons why it’s beneficial to virtualize your environment, but the current swine flu scare is highlighting a very good reason.

A virtual environment has very few physical touch points, meaning you can administer and use the environment from anywhere you can get a secure network connection. This is particularly important in situations where it’s not safe to leave your house.

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April 27, 2009  7:00 PM

VMware bristles at suggestions of lousy IOPS performance

Alex Barrett Alex Barrett Profile: Alex Barrett

When it comes to IOPS performance, VMware has its proverbial panties in a bunch. Plagued by the public perception that IO-intensive workloads don’t perform well in a virtual machine, the company is on a mission to prove otherwise, throwing tremendous amounts of engineering resources at the task.

With vSphere 4, VMware is publicly stating that a single virtual machine can drive an outlandish 300,000 IOPS, up from 100,000 IOPS with ESX 3.5. Then, at the vSphere launch last week, VMware CTO Steve Herrod told the audience that his engineers had just broken the 400,000 IOPS mark that very morning.

Clearly, VMware cares about IOPS.

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April 27, 2009  6:34 PM

Open source hypervisors face an uphill battle

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

VMware vs. Microsoft is the hot debate in virtualization these days, but what about proprietary vs. open source hypervisors?

Forrester Research has an interesting take on that topic. The firm’s new report, “Are Open Source Hypervisors Viable for You?” says the recession will drive more businesses to consider open source virtualization. I’m not sure I agree.

In most other technology markets, the “open source is free/cheap, and more people want free/cheap things when the economy is bad, so more people want open source” argument holds up. But to paraphrase Allen Iverson, we’re talking about virtualization! Not other markets. Not other markets. We’re talking about virtualization!

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