Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center Raise the Stakes in the Virtualization Race

Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center Raise the Stakes in the Virtualization Race

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It is great to see InfoWorld acknowledge the significant progress we’ve made with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Hyper-V (“Virtualization shoot-out: Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware”). We’re excited that the reviewer recognizes what our customers and respected industry analysts have been telling us for a while now: Hyper-V is ready to “give VMware a run for its money.”

This recognition comes on the heels of the Enterprise Strategy Group’s (ESG) report on Hyper-V R2 SP1 running key Microsoft workloads. ESG tested and verified industry-leading results that showed that single servers virtualized with Hyper-V R2 SP1 scaled to meet the IO performance requirements of 20,000 Exchange 2010 mailboxes, over 460,000 concurrent SharePoint 2010 users, and 80,000 simulated OLTP SQL Server users. InfoWorld’s results and ESG’s testing leave no doubt that Hyper-V is an enterprise-class hypervisor.

There are areas, of course, where I might quibble with the reviewer’s assessment. One such area is management. We believe that Microsoft has a key differentiation point in the management capabilities built into our System Center suite.

Just this week, IDC noted that the virtualization battleground will be won with management tools: “Looking ahead, the most successful vendors in the virtualization market will be those that can automate the management of an ever-escalating installed base of virtual machines as well as provide a platform for long-term innovation.” (They also state that the year over year growth of Hyper-V is almost three times that of VMware.)

This battleground is where Microsoft stands out, with System Center’s unique ability to provide deep insight into the applications running within the virtual machines (VMs), to manage heterogeneous virtualized environments, and to serve as a strong on-ramp to private cloud computing. Unlike the solutions of all other virtualization vendors, Microsoft’s management solution can manage not only the virtualization infrastructure but the actual applications and services that run inside the virtual machines. This is key to leveraging the capabilities of virtualization and the private cloud – it’s the apps that really matter at the end of the day.   

Of course, a management solution has to see all your assets to manage them. As InfoWorld and many others are starting acknowledge, the days of a monolithic virtualization solution are over. That is why, three years ago, Microsoft added VMware management to System Center. This allowed for one management infrastructure to manage all of the assets in IT, from physical to virtual, Microsoft to VMware, Windows to Linux.  And with System Center 2012, we’ll extend that capability by enhancing our support for VMware and adding support for Citrix XenServer. 

Virtualization is a major on-ramp to private cloud computing. As companies begin the shift to private cloud, they recognize that applications are the key services that the cloud delivers. Our customers—you—are telling us that the private cloud needs a new level of automation and management, beyond what traditional virtualization management offers. Last month at the Microsoft Management Summit, Brad Anderson talked about the advancements we’re building into System Center 2012 that will deliver against those needs.

And lastly, there is the issue of price. For the base virtualization layer, VMware’s solution is over three times the cost of the Microsoft solution. That’s a significant cost given the parity in performance and features that Hyper-V provides.  Butwhen you factor in management and the private cloud, the delta becomes even more pronounced. VMware’s new Cloud and management offerings are all priced on a per-VM basis, unlike Microsoft’s, which is priced on a per-server basis. This means that the cost of VMware solution will increase as you grow your private cloud – something you should take into account now.

I strongly encourage you to look into all that Microsoft has to offer in Virtualization and Private Cloud – and I’ll continue to discuss this theme in future posts. 

David Greschler


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  • Sorry if this is a double-post, I'm having browser issues.

    You should take exception to the pricing information published on page 6.  It is incorrect with regards to Hyper-V and makes Hyper-V appear to be the most expensive product reviewed.  Contrary to the claims made in the article the licensing around Hyper-V is not complex.  It breaks down like this:

    Hyper-V 2008 R2 - Free

    System Center SMSD - $1315 per CPU

    Using this model Hyper-V 2008 R2 comes out to be one of the least expensive solutions available, as you well know, and provide the most in-depth management tools available.  Unfortunately, InfoWorld has chosen to mix into the Hyper-V pricing the cost of the guest OS licensing, though it failed to do so with all of the other products reviewed.  The ONLY reason why you would need to buy a server OS license with Hyper-V would be to license the Windows Server VMs running inside it, and you would still need to do this if you were running Windows Server VMs on any other Hypervisor.  I have no doubt that the authors of the articles are aware of this fact, as they clearly point out on page 6 that VMware shops are typically buying Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter licenses to ensure that their Windows VMs are properly licensed.  InfoWorld needs to modify the article to either remove the OS licensing cost from the Hyper-V calculations or ADD the OS licensing costs into the competing products.

  • Great article, I agree with most of what is said here. One thing that is not very clearly addressed however, which I feel is becoming increasingly important while we as an industry expand on our virtualization implementations, is how virtualization can significantly strengthen an organizations disaster recovery and business continuity stance.

    This is an important piece of what goes into the decision regarding which hypervisor may be appropriate for any organization. Unfortunately right now Microsoft is a bit shy on the application support for Hyper-V, when it comes to enterprise DR.

    There are some great products working their way out into the market which will help address this issue however, and from what I am hearing the trend is heading towards Hyper-V, which we are all looking forward to. Some unique products such as TransactVM(.com) will provide relief for the places where SCVMM is lacking, specifically in regards to failover and recovery of Hyper-V systems in the enterprise.

    All things considered, I am excited about the direction Microsoft is heading with their Virtualization strategy, thanks David!

  • The infoworld article referenced above has this to say:

    "VMware's feature set, reputation, and pricing all reflect that fact. But where there used to be little competition, you'll now find a select group of challengers that have brought a wealth of enterprise features to their virtualization solutions and begun to give VMware a run for its money."

    As far as I can tell this doesn't mean that Hyper-V is giving VMware a run for it's money. It only means that there are other contenders in the business. Management features are the key and among the four solutions tested, Hyper-V still is the third.

    I'm excited about the promise that Microsoft's virtualization strategy holds, but spreading FUD and misinformation doesn't help anyone.

    I installed Hyper-V, KVM, Xen and VMware on 4 servers today and tried installing the same Ubuntu 10.10 image on all of them for some testing that we're doing. All, except Hyper-V, installed Ubuntu flawlessly. On Hyper-V all I got was a kernel panic.

  • @Sharininder:  Maybe there is a reason that Ubuntu isn't supported on Hyper-V?  How'd it work with Suse and RedHat (the Linux distros that have been tested and supported)?

  • To add to David's insights, we have moved on from solving VM sprawl to app sprawl in data centers now. Apps run all over. It is critical to monitor and manage with a view of the application vs. just servers. System Center and Hyper-V make 'Application Aware' clouds a reality, today.

  • @Sharininder - we've submitted a patch to address the kernel panic on Ubuntu 10.10. It's been accepted by the Ubuntu team, and will be coming down as an update soon.


  • THanks a Lot For Info

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