It Is Time To Expand The Virtual Playing Field

It is time to expand the virtual playing field. Since the release of both Hyper-V 2012 and vSphere 5.1, there have been an abundant amount of posts comparing the two hypervisors in a head to head fashion.  All the different charts, graphs, and tables point to the fact that when comparing maximum values head to head. This has been the way the two different hypervisors have been compared against each other all along and Microsoft and VMware have gotten to the point where things are pretty much even across the board. It was just a matter of time until we got to this point where Hyper-V catches up with vSphere and now that we have, I believe we need to change the scope of the comparisons beyond the maximum values.  After all, how many people actually get anywhere close to those maximums deployed in your production environments?  “Just because you can do something, does not mean you should.”

Along with the release of the latest version of the competing hypervisors, VMware also announced the new licensing model moving away from vSphere, forward to the vCloud suite. For this comparison, I want to move away from just the hypervisor itself and look at other features that are available for each of the platforms and make up the infrastructures.

VMware

VMware is moving past just vSphere licensing and is moving forward into the VMware vCloud Suite. This suite is broken down into three versions: Standard, Advanced and Enterprise versions. For this comparison, I am going to reference the Enterprise version to compare full functionality of the entire vCloud Suite, which can be broken down as follows:

Cloud Infrastructure

  • vSphere
  • vCloud Networking and Security
  • vCloud Director
  • vCloud Connector
  • vCenter Site Recovery Manager
  • vCenter Orchestrator

Cloud Service Provisioning

  • vCloud Automation Center
  • vFabric Application Director

Cloud Operations Management

  • vCenter Operations Management Suite

Cloud Business Management

  • vCenter Chargeback Manager

Microsoft

System Center 2012 comes in Standard and Datacenter editions.  There is no functionality difference between the edition and I will list all the technologies that make up Microsoft’s cloud offering. Here are the system Center 2012 Cloud Components:

Cloud Infrastructure

  • Data Protection Manager
  • Virtual Machine Manager
  • Endpoint Protection
  • Orchestrator

Cloud Service Provisioning

  • Configuration Manager

Cloud Operations Management

  • Operations Manager
  • App Controller

Cloud Business Management

  • Service Manager

Conclusion

The time has come to move away from just comparing the hypervisors.  Hypervisors are becoming a commodity item in itself and to really be able to measure value of the platforms we need to start looking at the entire stack.  When listing things out Microsoft and VMware’s private cloud stacks are running neck and neck, just like the hypervisors themselves.

There are two specific areas that, in my opinion, VMware is still way ahead of Microsoft in, at the moment.

Automation

Microsoft has not been able to present anything to really compete with the automation that VMware has built into its environment.  VMware really shines when it comes to automation with Orchestrator, vCloud Direct, Autodeploy, DRS, and Storage DRS.  The question is, how far ahead will VMware pull away before Microsoft  catch up and can present a real challenge in the world of automation?

Networking

VMware is ahead of the game in software defined networking.  It needs to be noted that VMware’s path going forward is in a current state of flux with VMware’s purchase of Nicira, which puts VMware in direct competition with one of its VCE partners Cisco.  I think in the long run this “competition “ will drive innovation and could continue to leave VMware way ahead of the pack with virtual networking.  One thing Microsoft really has going for it in this area is, its partner network and the innovation that comes from that direction.

I really give Microsoft credit on advancements they have made with Hyper-V. They have made great strides in a short amount of time and really show you that when Microsoft puts their mind to it there is really no technology it cannot compete in, but there are some details Microsoft is missing or still weak.

Steve Beaver (148 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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3 Responses to It Is Time To Expand The Virtual Playing Field

  1. Rob
    December 12, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Another pro-VMware article that is just plain wrong. System Center Orchestrator can quite easily plug into and automate just about anything like System Center, Tivoli, Director, vSphere, OpenView, etc. Orchestrator is extremely powerful and easy with its workflow automation.

    VMware ahead in networking? Maybe in the past, not anymore. Since you brought it up, take a look at Nicira. Out of desperation, VMware bought nicira for $1.6 billion to catch up to the network virt that Microsoft included in WS2012. Furthermore, the hyperv2012 vswitch is extensible with the cisco nexus 1000v and more. Steve, you always write pro VMware, anti articles. Can you at least try to be more balanced?

  2. Steve Beaver
    December 13, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    I felt that was pretty balanced. The products are getting to be pretty much even. You mentioned Orchestrator and both products have this for workflow automation. That was not my point with automation and the main area I was referring to was DRS, sDRS, ect. Microsoft has added live migration and made it past the first hump but has no automation to move guests around.

    To you point on VMware having to buy Nicira out of desperation, I could not disagree more. VMware’s switch is already extensible, it is not a distinguishing factor. Vmware has IBM and Cisco vSwitches, Microsoft has Cisco and OpenVswitch. Nicira gives VMware openvSwitch capability as well. Microsoft’s is playing catch-up in its support for NIC Teaming, otherwise known as link aggregation or load balancing. Microsoft currently doesn’t support implementations that use it.

    My last few posts have really been pretty positive for Microsoft and Hyper-V and I have written as much. My post compared how much Microsoft and VMware are now head to head but there is some functionality that is currently missing.

  3. December 18, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    Will a customer rip and replace vmware in favour of HyperV, just because Microsoft have caught up in feature and function?

    Will a customer build a private cloud based on hyperV if they already are virtualized on VMware and just need to add vCloud to build out their cloud?

    I see that Macintosh laptops are getting traction in the Enterprise market, but no company is doing a complete refresh across 15 000 employees ripping out Windows laptops and replacing with Mac. Rather it is a case by case individual basis and if an employee prefers or is more productive on Mac or Windows the employer will generally grant that wish. You can do this with desktops or mobile devices, one at a time, but you cannot rip out vmware virtualization for HyperV just to build your private cloud on hyperV.

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