“I was happily ploughing through Planet V12n, trying to keep up with all the goings on in the virtualisation space (Drinking from the fire hose!) when I stumbled on this:

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All 3 of these stories I know about, individually, but I thought it would be interesting to hear the thoughts of expert (and author!), Edward Haletky, around the new vSphere licensing, but also his thoughts specifically on Hyper-V R2.  I was already a bit dubious at this stage, seeing as they quote “HA in Hyper-V R2”, as the title when this feature was actually in R1 of Hyper-V, but I thought I’d give the podcast a listen anyway.

I wish I hadn’t.

“Join site manager Hannah Drake, news director Alex Barrett and news writer Bridget Botelho in the first edition of the Hypervisor Huddle, a monthly podcast covering the virtualization space. In this month's huddle you'll also hear from SearchVMware.com contributor, virtualization expert and book author Edward Haletky.”

I didn’t realise how ironic the sub-title of this podcast was, until after I finished listening.  More on this later.

Edward is a VMware guy.  He doesn’t work for VMware, but has a lot of experience, like many people out there, and has a number of good things to talk about around their technologies, and on many points, I agree with him.  VMware have some very mature, powerful, and feature rich technologies, and in many cases, a very loyal customer base.  Edward explains the Enterprise Plus SKU, gives his justification for the licensing changes etc.  All fine so far – some questionable bits, but, nothing major, apart from the fact that he says the Host Profiles relies on the Cisco vSwitch, which I didn’t think was the case, but hey ho.

Then we get onto Hyper-V R2, and the fun begins.

Bridget starts discussing the fact that Hyper-V R2 has high availability, and Live Migration built in for free, and adds that XenServer too, provides these Enterprise capabilities out of the box for free.  Edward’s response was to interrupt with, and I quote “but is it free?”.  After the 3rd time of “but is it free?”, he had my attention.  Bridget ignores good ol’ Edward at this stage, and goes on to raise some good points, around customers that have already adopted VMware are unlikely to change to Hyper-V, as they invested heavily in VMware, and training around it, and don’t have scope to change, especially in the present climate.  Linux is then brought into the mix, and yes, Hyper-V isn’t great for most flavours of Linux – XenServer and VMware are both better options there, but Novell SUSE and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are strong, supported workloads on Hyper-V.

By this time, Edward pipes up again…

“If you’re going to go with Hyper-V, Live Migration vs. VMotion – is it really free?  You still have to have SCCM, and a few other things.  You still have to buy 2008, you gotta buy SCCM, you gotta buy a bunch of stuff just to get it to work.  So, it’s not free.  None of these products are free.  Somewhere along the line, someone is going to ask you to pay for something”

I nearly spilt my tea down my T-shirt at this point.  Is this what Edward tells his customers??

Alex (news director) agrees with him!  Can you believe it??

Edward then goes on to explain that there are 2 100% free hypervisors out there, namely KVM with Linux (blessed by Linus himself, apparently), and ESXi.  Surprise Surprise!!  How do you get ESXi to do the more advanced stuff like VMotion and HA?  You buy vCenter!  To quote Edward with his own words, “Somewhere along the line, someone is going to ask you to pay for something”.

Let’s just take a step back, and dissect what Edward is saying.

1. You still have to have SCCM and a few other things…

What??  SCCM is System Center Configuration Manager.  For deployment and patching (at a high level).  Do you mean SCVMM, Virtual Machine Manager (clue in title there)?  I’ll let you off the misuse of the acronym (even though you used it twice), but do you need SCVMM to provide Live Migration or High Availability for Hyper-V R2?  No.  What are the ‘other things’ you mention?  The answer, as readers of this blog (and this post specifically) know, is all you need from Microsoft, to perform Live Migration and have High Availability, is Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (100% free, by the way) and a Client OS machine (Windows 7 Client), or Server 2008 R2 GUI box.  What would this cost me on the ESXi side (one of the other 100% free hypervisors)?  We’ll, I’d need vCenter, plus HA, plus VMotion.  This isn’t free unfortunately.

2. You still have to buy 2008, you gotta buy SCCM, you gotta buy a bunch of stuff just to get it to work…

You gotta buy 2008 – no, don’t need to buy that actually.  As I said before, Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 doesn’t require Windows Server 2008 R2.  You will however, regardless of hypervisor, still require Windows Guest OS’s (If you’re running Windows of course!).  If that’s the case, then yes, you’d need to buy 2008 / R2 guest OS licenses, but this is no different on VMware.

You gotta buy SCCM – afraid not Edward.

You gotta buy a bunch of stuff just to get it to work – there’s that generalisation again!  What is this magic ‘stuff’ / ‘other things’ you talk about?  I’ll give you the facts – see response #1!

3. So, it’s not free.  None of these products are free.  Somewhere along the line, someone is going to ask you to pay for something…

This applies as much to Hyper-V, as ESXi, as XenServer.  Microsoft, VMware and Citrix, as examples, are corporate organisations, and are driven by revenue and profits, but at the same time, are aiming to enable IT to prosper through innovative and exciting technologies.  ESXi is free.  Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 is free.  XenServer is free.  Can I manage them, however simplistically, for free?  No.  I can’t manage them from thin air, I need to install the free VI Client, XenCenter, or Hyper-V tools on a client OS, somewhere.  That will, at some stage, in most cases (although I appreciate VI Client run’s on Open Source Linux) have cost money.  Admittedly, Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 requires Windows 7 to manage it (or WS2008 R2) as a minimum, but a number of organisations are looking at this as the next logical step after XP, and let’s face it – to buy a Windows 7 laptop when they release, you’d be looking at £300ish, and bearing in mind that this unlocks Live Migration and HA for your Hyper-V Server 2008 boxes, I’d say the cost is more than justified.

So, back to “An Audiocast for IT Pros in the Know” – Ironic isn’t it.  I’ll let you make your minds up about it!  Problem for Microsoft is, people would listen to this, from an ‘expert, and author’ and believe it, and Hyper-V would never cross their mind again, which is a shame, because when people see, and understand the full picture, and can compare solutions on a level playing field, it’s clear to see that Hyper-V R2 is an incredibly strong proposition, which in many cases, is a great fit for their organisation.  Admittedly not in all situations, but you’d be surprised how many.

Rant over :-)  Hear it for yourself, here.

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