Controlling the Virtual Infrastruture

There is a great deal of marketing hype about which hypervisor is better but I have spent some thinking about this and really have to wonder if the hypervisor is what we should really be focusing or concentrating upon. A lot of third party vendors are starting to port their products to be able to work with both hypervisors.  To see a list of some of these products check out the post Growth of Citrix and Hyper-V EcoSystems. What about the management server itself? Isn’t this really the center of the virtual universe?  When third party application vendors design their applications to work with VMware or Microsoft hypervisors they have been writing plug-ins for their product to work inside the management server systems and/or its client.

I am not going to get into the discussion of which platform is better. This argument and debate has been going on for quite awhile and the fact of the matter is no one platform will be the best at everything.  This is why most large scale datacenters will have a mixture of Windows, Linux and possibly a mainframe or two. I believe the same thing will happen with the virtual infrastructure in that there will be no “one size fits all.” There are enough marketing comparisons posted everywhere on the internet that I find myself looking at another more interesting fact that currently no virtual management product out there will control and manage all the different types of hypervisors. So far what I had found is that SCVMM is able to control both Microsoft Virtual Systems as well as the VMware Infrastructure/vSphere and VirtManager is able to manage KVM and Xen.  

Let’s think about this for a second; I think the management server is going to be the true key to the kingdom as people are looking to consolidate their administrative tools more so than adding more tools.  Even with VMware, currently the industry leader in the virtual space,  they will need to expand vCenter ability to control more than just the VMware environment to really stay relevant in this space moving forward.  As much as VMware wants to believe that it has the best virtual infrastructure and therefore everyone will run all their virtual systems in vSphere, you have to see the same thought process Microsoft had about the Windows operating systems in years past.  It seems Microsoft has learned its lesson from the past and VMware seems currently determined to repeat the same mistakes Microsoft has learned from and moved forward with.

Microsoft has entered the virtualization space and intends to be a contender. They may have been a little late to the party but their products are getting better and better with each release and I believe Microsoft will gain more traction as well as market share as it virtual platform matures. If you had the choice to completely manage your virtual environment with one product or two, which would you choose?

So to review, I think all the focus on the hypervisor is not going to be as important or relevant as the management systems that control it.  Microsoft seems to understand this and is positioning itself to be able to control this aspect of virtual infrastructure while VMware seems to be reliving the past mistakes of others and doing everything it can to keep vCenter closed off.  Don’t get me wrong I am still a huge fan of VMware products and the solutions it provides but I think VMware has dropped the ball on this and it is going to hurt VMware in the long run.

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Steve Beaver (192 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 thoughts on “Controlling the Virtual Infrastruture”

  1. I don’t think VMware is headed to the same mistakes – they are keeping their platform wide open and extensible. And they are doing a better job at it than Microsoft – I believe any experienced virtualized environment admin would agree.

  2. Yes things may be wide open but let’s look at one of the big tools used with that, powershell. You may be missing my point on this in that for vCenter to remain the true center of the universe it will need to be able to control and manage other hypervisors, which is the steps that Microsoft is taking with System Center. Microsoft would like to see this product as the true Center of the Infrastructure. If given a choice between having to use only one tool to manage all of your environment or having to use multiple tools, I think most people would like to see one tool that can really do it all or at least most of it. The different hypervisors will all have their own place in different datacenters and more likely you may see companies running multiple virtualization platforms for different tasks and applications in the future.

  3. We are an ISV providing an all-in-one virtualization solution focusing on the needs of the small and mid-sized businesses (SMB). Our company started out as a systems integrator specializing in virtualization, primarily dealing with VMware. We noticed, however, that when dealing with the SMB market, many of our clients found VMware too costly and too complex. When we switched to become and ISV, we decided to focus on Hyper-V as the platform we leverage for our solution because most SMBs are already using Microsoft products and solutions, and because Hyper-V is more cost effective for that market. It all depends on the market that you are targeting. VMware is the leader in large enterprises and large data centers. Hyper-V has a stronger play in the SMB space. Read more at :

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