VMware ESX Server 3i

VMware ESX Server 3i

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I was reading this article about the up-and-coming ESX Server 3i from VMware.

It calls out a bunch on "new features" that we have either been doing for ages, or have announced that we will have in Windows Server Virtualisation (WSV), when we ship Windows Server 2008 - I'm confused (seems like someone is trying to introduce a load of FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt).

They call out 64GB virtual machines and 128GB physical machines.  We'll do 64GB virtual machines with WSV and 64-bit Windows will work with systems with up to 1 Terabyte of physical memory.  The reason for this, if you're interested is that our hypervisor is 64-bit and ESX is still 32-bit.

They call out support for virtualisation-aware (para-virtualised) Linux operating systems.  We are working with both Novell and XenSource, so we'll do that too (we already support both RedHat and SUSE Linux on Virtual Server).

There's more, but the 'funniest' is the reference to expanded hardware support (storage and networking).  Both Virtual Server and WSV use native Windows device drivers - have a look at http://www.windowsservercatalog.com, you'll see that we already support over 6,500 storage items.  Both our server virtualisation offerings (Virtual Server and WSV) are completely hardware independent - as long as there is a Windows device driver, you're OK.  VMware has a very small, limited sub-set of hardware that they can run on.

Just thought I'd call it out - there's a lot of FUD out there - don't believe any of it.


  • a lot of FUD??? like the explanation of Microsoft of doing something like vmotion with Virtual Server?? come on, Microsoft is king of FUD!!

  • This post is FUD.  How can I do vmotion, HA, DRS, vmotion with storage on WSV?

    When will you do all this stuff?  When will you release your feature lacking WSV?

  • I totally agree with you on this Dave, there's a lot of FUD out here.

    Features like small footprint, maximized for virtualization, possible to embed into hardware, etc should be ignored in this whole FUD discussion.

    Hmm, perhaps I should take my anti-cynisism pills again..

    ESX 3i can't be compared to the Windows Server Virtualization at this time. As soon as WSV can be used embedded then it would be the right comparison.

    Thinks like VMotion, HA, DRS makes that VMware is way ahead of Microsoft.

    I do agree that some exciting this are going to happen with WSV, but it isn't there yet. It will be a nice alternative for (some) companies.

  • Remember: "Shipping is a feature too..." :D

    Viridian is a year away, and you diss 3i features what are weeks away.

    BTW: What features have you "been doing for ages"?

    Where's the FUD coming from? Really?

  • We've been using ESX since 2002, and were one of the only two external beta testers of VMotion. I've heard and read Microsoft folks dismiss VMotion as something complicated to setup (it's much easier than MS Cluster Server), and rarely used.

    Vmotion has changed the way we do servers, and with DRS and HA, we now virtualize close to 80% of our new server deployments.

    I'm not sure what new features you have been doing "for ages" considering that you haven't even shipped your hypervisor yet.

    As for the 128GB vs. 1TB RAM / 32bit vs. 64bit hypervisor - so what? A microscopic number of servers support more than 128GB of physical RAM anyway.

    Yes, you are working with Novell (while Baller is threatening Red Hat) to eventually support paravirtualization. Of course ESX supports many more operating systems than WSV will.

    Yes, ESX has a smaller HCL than windows does, but the vast majority of BSOD's are caused by crappy device drivers.

    ESX is a very mature product. Microsoft's track   record for 1.0 releases is not exactly good.

  • I have no interest in a Microsoft VS VMware slanging match but I think your analysis lacks real-world objectivity Dave.

    As a manager of a reseller/service provider actually out their selling real virtualisation products for real money, the only doubt I have is that WVS will ship when MS says it will.  The only uncertainty for me surrounds how robust and performing a 1.0 release will be in comparison to ESX.  I have no interest in which vendor will be first to support 1TB of physical memory.  What organisation, which could afford to provision such devices, could ever justify investing such monumental sums for a server virtualisation host? 32-bit VS 64-bit architecture – who really cares, so long as the product is a match for your functional requirements?

    MS will need to persuade a great many global companies, already heavily invested in VMware or in the process of adopting virtualisation that WSV is The One if it want's to make any real money.  FUD is not the answer – shipping a better mousetrap is.

    Its failure to recognise the extent and value of the virtualisation market is Microsoft's Second Great Mistake.  (For the First Great Mistake, Google "global impact of the Internet").  I also think the outcome will be very similar; Microsoft will achieve good market penetration in time, but never dominance.

    And competition’s good.  (Face it - what REAL competition does VMware currently have in the DataCentre/SMB, where the big money is to be had?)

    We the users will be the beneficiaries.  Ultimately, we'll get a real choice of products/vendors and lower costs.

    So bring it on Microsoft, we’re waiting.

  • I regularly defend Microsoft against it's badmouthers, but this article takes the cake and demonstrates that it's getting difficult to defend  Microsoft when articles like this are coming from their representatives.

    You are actually calling out VMware on new features they are releasing now and ** saying they're not new because Windows WILL have them sometime next year **.

    And you honestly don't see anything wrong with that line of thinking.

    That's screwed up.

  • Dave,

    I have written something on 3i a few weeks ago here:


    As you could see I for first didn't ring the bell claiming 3i was the end of the world for MS etc etc. But yet your article sounds a bit biased (due to your badge). Not the right way to argue your advantages in my opinion.


  • By far the worst post I have read from the technet blogs.

  • So, in my defense:

    Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 (shipping product), can do:

    512 VMs - we've tested on a 256GB machine.

    Fail over a running VM in 2 seconds (for free).

    Run on 64-bit systems.

    Can run on (pretty much) any hardware.

    Take snapshots of running machines (for backup).

    Support SUSE & RedHat Linux.

    And with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (shipping product), do point and click Physical to Virtual conversions.

    And manage the whole lot.

  • "512 VMs - we've tested on a 256GB machine."

    And?  What kind of load was on those VM's?  We have tested VS 2005R2 and it can run VM's just not under any load once you start to stack them up.  ESX was easily able to get 3 to 1 vs. VS 2005 under load.

    "Fail over a running VM in 2 seconds (for free)."

    Fail over how?  I am truly interested in this piece of information.

    Run on 64-bit systems.

    Since ESX does not run under an OS like windows this in my book is a shortcoming of VS.  You can run 64bit vm's under ESX natively on 64bit hardware and have been able to for a long time.

    "Can run on (pretty much) any hardware."

    With pretty much any results, from ok to really poor.

    "Take snapshots of running machines (for backup)."

    ESX has done this for some time as well.  And with VCB can take live backups of machines that are shutdown consistant not crash consistant.

    "Support SUSE & RedHat Linux."

    Ok, any other distro's of linux?  And what versions of SUSE and RedHat.  I am sure you will find that ESX mops up the floor with VS when it comes to linux support.

    "And with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (shipping product), do point and click Physical to Virtual conversions."

    And with VMware Converter (shipping product) do point and click PtoV conversions for quite some time now.  

    "And manage the whole lot."

    VirtualCenter is the best manager of virtual machines on the market, I eagerly await the day that Microsoft puts the spurs to VMware by realeasing a better virtualization product.  That day has not arrived yet.

  • I’d just like to point out something I saw in the article originally referenced:

    Small Footprint.1 ESX Server 3i’s 32MB disk footprint is a fraction of the size of a general purpose operating system, reducing complexity and providing unmatched security and reliability.

    Last time I checked Server 2008 in core mode, the ultra resource optimized version of windows, took over 4GB of hard drive space. Not that this is really a major point since any ESX host I buy has 2x 300GB drives (mirrored), for now. The point I’m trying to make is that by the time MS releases their next big VS release, VMWare will have moved even further ahead.

    VMWare ESX has everything now, today, in production, usable. We will not see Windows virtualization 2008 until 180 days after the release of Server 2008 next year. MS needs to step up and get moving. I’m all for running MS’ virtualization software but it isn’t ready for real use, yes we use it in our lab for play testing, but all our development, certification, and production  VM’s are on ESX because it outperforms MS VS (and has more features).

    My response to the other stuff posted above…

    So, in my defense:

    Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 (shipping product), can do:

    512 VMs - we've tested on a 256GB machine.

    By my calculations (which might be wrong)) that is 512 MB of RAM per VM.  I can’t imagine those VM’s were running any applications like MOM or SharePoint.

    Fail over a running VM in 2 seconds (for free).

    I suspect this based is on the above VM’s using 512MB of RAM. Last time I talked to MS (5 weeks ago) it took as long as 4 minutes to fail over a VM from one host to another, depending on the amount of RAM allocated. 2-4 seconds was the time quoted for a VM with 512MB of RAM so that makes sense. Also the VM would not be accessible during this time, unlike VMotion that keeps the VM online almost the entire time. The most that every happened to me with VMotion is I lost 1 ping during the final phase of the move.

    Run on 64-bit systems.

    ESX can run 64bit VM’s if the hardware is 64bit.

    Can run on (pretty much) any hardware.

    This is true and sometimes I wish ESX supported more hardware. However, the fact that they supported a very specific list of well tested systems ensures stability and reliability.

    Take snapshots of running machines (for backup).

    ESX can do this as well. Also if I recall correctly VS 2005 does not have a snapshot manager like ESX (been a while though, they may have added it in R2).

    Support SUSE & RedHat Linux.

    Don’t use Linux currently so I don’t care enough to say anything.

    And with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (shipping product), do point and click Physical to Virtual conversions.

    In this way they are equal (although VMware had the feature first).

    And manage the whole lot.

    To some extent, yes, but VirtualCenter is still ahead of Microsoft.

  • InIn all of these postings no one is talking money...

    ESX Starter is ridiculous in its no SAN limitation, and it’s still expensive...

    SAN vendors have made iSCSI storage affordable to the SMB

    VMWare better make ESX more SMB price friendly, or the SMB will go to Microsoft.

    The SMB does not care about VMotion or any other features, they just want to run as many VMs on a single server as possible.

  • the biggest downfall of Virtual server is it is a microsoft product.....enough said

  • incredible display of Micro$haft arrogance

    who wants the overhead of a windows OS even before you start virtualising

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