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There’s been lots of buzz on the virtualization front over the past month … In August, Microsoft announced the RTM version of Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2, the latest major releases of the Windows Server and System Center families. In addition, at VMworld this year, VMware announced the latest edition of their vSphere hypervisor platform: VMware vSphere 5.5.
IT Pros have been very interested in learning about the pros and cons presented by each offering – particularly because the total cost of Windows Server 2012 R2 + System Center 2012 R2 can be quite attractive in comparison to VMware’s offerings.
With so many features called by differing names in each virtualization platform, comparing Microsoft and VMware virtualization solutions can sometimes seem a bit like comparing apples and oranges. But, I’ll try to boil things down to a real-world perspective based on my experience implementing both solutions in the field throughout my career. In this article, I’ll provide a summarized comparison of the feature sets provided by each of these latest releases using the currently available public information from both Microsoft and VMware as of this article’s publication date for additional reference.
Rather than simply comparing feature-by-feature using just simple check-marks in each category, I’ll try to provide as much detail as possible for you to intelligently compare each area. As I’m sure you’ve heard before, sometimes the “devil is in the details”.
For each comparison area, I’ll rate the related capabilities with the following color coded rankings:
In this article, I’ve organized the comparison into the following sections:
Of course, not all of the features and capabilities presented in the summary below may be important to you. As you review the comparison summary of each section, just make a note of the particular features that you're likely to use in your environment. When you're done, tally up the Green ratings in each column to determine which platform achieves a better score in meeting the needs of your organization.
Here we go…
For this section, I’m defining Supported Guest Operating Systems as operating systems that are supported by both the virtualization platform vendor and by the operating system vendor. Below, I’ve listed the latest common versions of major Windows and Linux operating systems that I've seen used in business environments of all sizes over the years, including SMB, Enterprise and hosting partner organizations. I've included the support status for each operating system along with relevant notes where helpful.
If you’re looking for the full list of Guest Operating Systems supported by each platform, you can find the full details at the following locations:
In terms of Guest Operating System choices ... It’s somewhat of a draw in this area, as the best choice for you really depends upon which Guest Operating Systems you are actually using in your environment.
If you are primarily using the latest past few versions of common Windows and Linux operating systems in your shop, either platform probably nicely supports your required mix of Guest Operating Systems. However, if you’re still using older legacy versions or specialized versions of some operating systems, you may need to more closely review the full compatibility lists for each platform using the links provided above. When evaluating Guest Operating System support for virtualization platforms, remember to also check with the Operating System vendor to ensure that the OS in question also meets their support and licensing policies.
In certain scenarios, you may find that a mix of virtualization platforms is needed to cost-effectively support all the features and Guest Operating Systems for which you’re looking, in which case you’ll be pleased to find that Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 also supports Private Cloud management across heterogeneous hypervisors, including Hyper-V, VMware vSphere and Citrix XenServer. For more details on managing VMware vSphere and Citrix XenServer hypervisors with Microsoft System Center 2012 R2, be sure to check out the following articles:
As you can see, both Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 / System Center 2012 R2 and VMware vSphere 5.5 offer lots of enterprise-grade virtualization features. Hopefully this comparison was useful to you in more granularly evaluating each platform for your environment.
To assist in offline review, we’re making this technical comparison available as a FREE 20-page technical whitepaper for you to leverage when evaluating virtualization and Private Cloud solutions … Just follow the steps below to get it delivered directly to you! As an added bonus, we'll also include several FREE study resources for preparing for Microsoft certification exams on Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012.
Get this Whitepaper for FREE!
Download the Microsoft Private Cloud Eval Kit (You’ll need this to build you lab so that you can follow along leverage this whitepaper when evaluating Microsoft Private Cloud.)
Shortly after downloading your Evaluation Kit, you’ll receive an email titled “Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Evaluation: Start Here”
Forward the email received in Step 2 above to EarlyExperts@Microsoft.com. You'll receive an email in response with your free whitepaper and additional study resources!
Keith Mayer is a Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft focused on Windows Infrastructure, Data Center Virtualization, Systems Management and Private Cloud. Keith has over 20 years of experience as a technical leader of complex IT projects, in diverse roles, such as Network Engineer, IT Manager, Technical Instructor and Consultant. He has consulted and trained thousands of IT Pros worldwide on design of enterprise technology solutions.
Keith is currently certified on several Microsoft technologies, including Private Cloud, System Center, Hyper-V, Windows, Windows Server, SharePoint and Exchange. He also holds other industry certifications from VMware, IBM, Cisco, Citrix, HP, CheckPoint, CompTIA and Interwoven.
You can contact Keith online at http://aka.ms/AskKeith.