Over the last month I have been on tour with Dell showing what Hyper-V can do for small/medium businesses, and later this week I’ll be with them in Falmouth. The argument they put forward for Hyper-V is really simple:
You might argue that Hyper-v isn’t as good as the other stuff you can buy, and that’s OK with me as long as you can prove that for the scenario you have in mind you are getting what you are paying for be that performance, security, manageability etc.
As far as performance goes I think that getting an application like SQL Server or Exchange to run in a virtual machine at about 90% of the speed of the physical server the virtual machine runs on is an acceptable loss and is competitive with other hypervisors. You’ll want to test this yourself, but remember to compare like with like for example your compute, network and storage setting should be the same.
You might wonder if Hyper-V is secure? anecdotal evidence suggests that it is as secure as anything else because if it wasn’t you’d be able to reply to this post with the evidence from a competitors website or blog. For best practice on securing Hyper-V please refer to this earlier post of mine
However in the manageability space Hyper-V by itself runs out of road once you end up with more than X virtual machines – where X will depend on your infrastructure the size of the IT team etc. but if you have more than a hundred virtual machines, you’ll need to be very well organised or use additional software. Microsoft have a suite of tools called System Center (currently System Center 2012) and this is also has a DataCenter edition, licensed per physical server allowing you to manage however many virtual machines you have on there, but more importantly it’s designed to manage your applications. By this I mean deploying them, monitoring them, etc. rather than just looking at the health of the virtual machine they are running in.
I don’t see this lack of manageability as a problem for smaller businesses as many of them don’t have that many virtual machines and your organisation might well be OK just using Hyper-V and the tools that Dell provide with their servers and EqualLogic SANs.
Many things change with Windows Server 2012 and while the big headlines have been about massive improvements in scale for the next version of Hyper-V, that’s not really relevant for the smaller business. Rather it is things like multi server management with specific tools in the new Server Manager to monitor, and even update servers in a group. Powershell 3 has extensive support for managing all aspects of your servers from one place.
That’s not to say there’s nothing in Hyper-V, for smaller business and my top 3 would be:
So before you pay out for tools for virtualisation or management, see what you get included in Windows Server, and whether the return you get from additional software be that a different hypervisor or management tools is justified in your business with your IT team.
Finally the release Windows Server 2012 is end of August, so if you are planning a server procurement now you may well find it is shipped with it. To be ready for that rather than just downgrading to an earlier version, have a look at the Windows Server 2012 content on the Microsoft Virtual Academy and/or have download the Release Candidate
"Hyper-v isn’t as good as the other stuff you can buy"
It's not as good as the other stuff you can get for free either, like the free ESXi hypervisor
Doug we'll have to disagree on your use of the word good here as I don't think you can do Live Migration/Vmotion in esx for a start which seems to be really important to most people. Replica is another thing that I don't think Vmware give away either and I am sure there are memory and CPU limits aren't there?