Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thoughts on Virtualisation

Hey everybody,
I’ve just submitted my 2nd last assignment for my Masters degree, so I thought I’d take some time to update my blog post.

As I write this I’m finishing off migrating our production development system from a virtual server on Virtual Server 2005 over to Hyper-V (Windows 2008). So far so good. The new server is much quicker and I can now allocate up to 2 virtual CPU’s for Windows 2003 (up to 4 for a Windows 2008 guest OS).

I started thinking about a recent LinkedIn discussion where I was shocked at the perception people had about Microsoft’s virtualisation platforms – Words like this were thrown around:

  • “Go with VMware who is the leader of the pack. It's been around for a long time, and it is using efficient memory”
  • “VMware are several years ahead of these new players. So, don't tried the inferior products, and go with the best for now”
  • “VMware is the market leader and their technology is proven”
  • “It's not mature yet”
I personally don’t believe any of these above statements are correct – Other than the fact that VMWare has been around for longer than MS Virtual technologies (not by that much though).

Hyper-V can do most things that VMWare can, and it’s considerably cheaper. The big thing that Hyper-V can’t do is “ live hot swapping” in a clustered environment.
More information on this here.

I came across an interesting article published earlier this month where the PacLib Group commissioned a study to find out what it would actually cost to migrate their environment over to a virtualised environment. The outcome is it would cost $25K for installation and $25K for software for a VMWare installation. This is one of the most interesting quotes I have read in a long time from David Furey (the IT Manager at The PacLib Group): - “You’ve got to question whether it’s worth paying $50,000 for that. I know the VMware camp go on about features like VMotion, but for $50,000 I could pay someone to move my virtual machines for me.”

The functionality David is talking about is the live hot swapping in VMWare (that Hyper-V doesn’t have) – But one seriously needs to ask – How much is that functionality actually worth to the business? Is it worth the 10 seconds or so of downtime you save when comparing it to a Hyper-V clustered environment? Perhaps it is important for your business to have the VMWare functionality – But it needs to be evaluated.

The one thing I sorely miss at the moment is some way to perform a Physical to Virtual migration (P2V). In MS Virtual Server 2005, this was fairly complicated, although do-able using the Virtual Server Migration Tools coupled with Automated Deployment Services (ADS) – All were free provided you had Windows 2003 Enterprise.

With Hyper-V the only way to perform a P2V migration (using the Microsoft tools) is via the System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2008 – Which so happens this software is in Beta, and it would eventually be a purchasable product.

I’m not saying VMWare is no good – It’s great – I just think people need to have more of an open mind about the solutions that they look at and evaluate all options. I suspect that over time we will see more of what the PacLib Group went through as people start to question whether the extra features of VMWare are actually worth the money given the various virtualisation options around now.

Anyway – That’s it from me.

5 weeks to go for my Masters degree and I’m done :- ) Can’t wait.

All the best.

1 comment:

maneesh said...
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