|The great virtualization debate: VMware vs. Microsoft|
Ken Cline and Dave Sobel take sides in the hypervisor wars.
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
Ever notice that when you talk to someone about virtualizating, it always seems to come down to, “So, what’s your consolidation ratio?” Everyone seems to care only about the number of virtual machines you can house on a single host system. While consolidation ratios are important, they’re yesterday’s news!
Virtualization is about so much more than just shrinking the footprint (physical and carbon) of your data center. Think about it: What does virtualization really do for you? It encapsulates your workloads (servers) into a collection of files that are consistent, that are portable, that are uncoupled from hardware, and that can be copied from location to location. Let’s look at each of these benefits individually:
You may have heard this morning that Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems. Like Ron Burgundy, it’s kind of a big deal.
Most of the early reaction to the news has focused on the fallout in the database market. Oracle, the market leader, now owns the biggest thorn in its side, Sun’s open source MySQL.
But the real legacy of the Oracle-Sun acquisition could be its effect on the virtualization market — particularly on VMware.
Bricks (standard rack-mount servers) are a known entity. You’ve been buying and deploying them forever. You are comfortable with bricks.
Blades (blade servers) are cool. They’re small. They look really neat in your rack. Your vendor really wants you to buy blades.
The question is, which platform is right for your virtual infrastructure? I’m here to say that, for the majority of environments, blades are the right answer. Why’s that, you ask? Well, it’s really pretty simple. Virtualization is all about simplifying your environment. It’s about having consistency in platform and in process/procedure. It’s about rapid provisioning and rapid recovery from failures. It’s all about commoditizing your IT infrastructure to enhance support to your line of business applications.
There has been a lot of mud slinging and FUD raising among virtualization vendors lately as the quest to rule the virtualization space continues.
One vendor will release information about its product, comparing performance, pricing or features to another vendor, with the other vendor firing back with its own response shortly thereafter. With all this going on, who are you to believe if you are in the market to adopt a virtualization solution in your own environment?
Comparisons by vendors themselves are always biased; after all, they want you to buy their product and not a competitor’s. Performance comparisons between vendors — even by third parties — don’t always tell the big picture and can be difficult to interpret.
I’ve been involved in many data center virtualization projects and one thing that continues to amaze me is that, far too often, the senior management team has no way of knowing if the project is a success. Oh sure, the manager of the data center is thrilled! He’s got only 10% of the systems he had before the project began — but what does that mean to the CxO? Absolutely nothing!
The CxO doesn’t care how many servers are in the data center. He doesn’t care if those servers are running below 10% utilization. He couldn’t care less that there are now only 500 network cables rather than the original 15,000. He doesn’t even really care that the cost of power and cooling has been slashed by 75%. In the grand scheme of things, all those savings amount to a few decimal points in the overall corporate budget. If you want to get your CxO excited, you need to demonstrate that you’re favorably impacting something that he does care about — his line of business applications.
VMware and its supporters have made like Mr. Burns and released the hounds on Microsoft.
The object of their ire is the “Top 10 VMware Myths” video, which features two Microsoft execs trying (sometimes a little too hard) to show why Hyper-V is better than VMware. Viewers on Microsoft’s own site called the video “embarrassing” and said “we deserve better than this,” but that criticism pales in comparison to reaction on other blogs.
The award for Most Thorough Response goes to VMware’s Mark Chuang, who posted a 2,500-word rebuttal on the VMware Virtual Reality blog. Check out some of these zingers: