One of my previous posts is a publication of a presentation I gave for my company, together with Sander Berkouwer. In this presentation, we concluded that Microsoft and VMware have somewhat equal virtualization offerings. As I work for an independent IT-services company, we need to maintain a unbiased view of the virtualization market. This means, that Sander and I simply are trying to implement a VMware, Microsoft or Citrix solution to best fit our client’s demand.

In order to maintain the independence of our employer, our colleagues need to be well informed about the solutions we are offering. This was the main reason for giving the mentioned presentation. In this presentation, we demo-ed the next-generation virtualization products from both Microsoft and VMware for our colleagues. We stated that both solutions have pros and cons, and that, depending on the customers’ demands, either solution will be most suitable for them. This opinion works out great, because OGD can do both Microsoft and VMware implementations.

As a freelance blogger on Virtual Lifestyle, however, I have a different opinion: VMware is the best virtualization solution money can buy.

Seen from a global overview, both companies have a solid virtualization solution. When you zoom in on the details, you’ll notice those little details that make a world of difference. It’s just these details that make VMware the best virtualization provider, and make Microsoft’s solutions to be needing years and years of improvement before it can even pretend to be in the same league as VMware.

In the next couple of posts, I will dive into these little details to further explain my point:

Mythbusting

I had a great time (laughing until I shat yellow-bricks, (sorry Duncan)) catching up on the latest Microsoft Marketing Failure. This video clearly illustrates that Microsoft knows damn well that they’ve got a huge amount of work to do. Come one Microsoft, this one is just sad. To quote Gabrie van Zanten:

This is getting really annoying because of the assumptions being made…. First statement of the distinguished gentlemen is about the layers of Hyper-V compared to VMware ESX. The guy on the left says: “With VMware you’re dealing with four layers. You got the hardware, the VMware layer, the Operating System and the applications. With our solution (Hyper-V) you have three layers. You have got the hardware, you have the Operating System and the applications.”. Excuse me? In Hyper-V you have exactly the same layers VMware ESX has, there is just a difference in which component runs in what layer.

Management software

As more and more experiences of managing VMware vCenter / ESX with Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager are being published, more and more information flows out on the Internet. Most experiences are not positive. This video even tells us that SCVMM isn’t suitable to manage any VMware environment. Trying to create a VM on the VMware platform using SCVMM needs heavy customization of the wizard. Wait, doesn’t that contradict? A wizard should make my life easier, not harder.

Even Microsoft themselves say that managing VMware with SCVMM is considered dangerous. Evidently, all VM’s running on VMware and managed by SCVMM should be migrated to Hyper-V nodes a.s.a.p.:

scvmm-provisioning-a-vm-on-esx-is-consideren-a-warning

Another very annoying property of SCVMM is the lack of support for a large number of VMware attributes. For instance: in SCVMM, you cannot use Port Groups, only vSwitches. This leaves your previously designed networking architecture in vCenter/ESX largely useless, while needing to rebuild the entire environment in SCVMM.While on the subject, Microsoft recommends not to set VLANs with SCVMM anyway…

In addition, SCVMM creates random garbage on your vCenter server, like additional port groups. These have to be manually cleaned up after discarding a SCVMM server. Thankfully, there’s a Powershell script to automate the cleanup

Even worse, SCVMM just deletes VM Templates built using VMware vCenter, without warning. The SCVMM product is so great, it can’t even successfully delete a folder on the datastore after copying and unregistering the VM Template.

SCVMM doesn’t do a much better job managing Resource Pools. They are viewable from within SCVMM, but managing them is a bridge too far. Actually, when migrating a ESX VM with SCVMM,the VM gets moved out of the resource pool, thus screwing up the entire resource dividing mechanism, as well as effectively relieving a Resource Pool Administrator from his management tasks. After a migration, this poor guy can’t even see his VM anymore…

Lastly, Microsoft is marketing SCVMM as a ‘single pane of glass’ for hypervisor management. This is simply not true, as it required to use the VMware Infrastructure Client for certain tasks. Why use SCVMM at all if it can only do so much, and poorly at that? For instance: VM Resource Management: Hyper-V versus SCVMM.

As I explain in an earlier post (Single pa(i)n(e) of glass), this whole single pane of glass thing is getting embarrassing. VMware uses a single client interface to all their vSphere products, while I need six interfaces to use Microsoft Hyper-V and SCVMM. Microsoft should retake the first grade counting class to get rid of their numeric illiteracy.

VMware vMotion vs. Microsoft Live Migration (or Quick Migration)

With these techniques, Virtual Machines can be moved from one server to another while remaining operational.
With vMotion, many VM’s can be moved from a any host to multiple other hosts at the same time. With Live Migration, you can only perform one live migration concurrently for each pair of nodes involved in the live migration (the source and target). Without using Microsoft’s CSV clustered file system, all the VM’s on a LUN need to be moved (quick-migrated) at the same time. Without CSV, you can’t even use Live Migration. Thankfully, enabling CSV is very simple (as it is just a filterdriver on top of NTFS, not a truely clustered file system).

Evacuating an entire server to do some maintenance (like patching or a hardware-upgrade) will take only a small amount of time with VMware, but a lot longer when using Microsoft.

Migrating VM’s between hosts with incompatible processors is a pro of using Quick Migration. However, VMware supports the same goal by using Enhanched vMotion Compatibility, but without the downtime necessary when using Quick Migration.

Storage vMotion / Fault Tolerance / Distributed Switches / Host Profiles / Distributed Power Management / Site Recovery Manager

No need to really dive deeply into these: Microsoft just doesn’t have them.

Additional reading

Microsoft’s SC-VMM provides limited view of VMware-based VMs