Making the jump away from VMware

Posted On 2011-08-15 by FortyPoundHead
Keywords: Hyper-V,HyperV,VMware,virtualization,virtual,cost,price,hypervisor,machine,administrator
Tags: VMWare Products HyperV Blog ESX Windows Server 2008 Windows
Views: 1019

Thinking of moving away from VMWare? Can Hyper-V provide the functionality that you require to keep your systems available? I can tell you that paying the VMware tax has become a bit tedious.

VMWare has a rock-solid product. There is no denying that. VMWare, who's been in the virtualization business since 1999, has got this virtualization thing down cold. As such, as features and functionality has been added, the cost of the software has grown over the years.

If you area virtualization administrator for your company, you probably are no doubt aware of the severe backlash that VMware received from its customers after new license pricing models were posted, in front of the release of the version of vSphere. For those that don't know, see this article.

About a week and half later, VMware realized that they had severely alienated their customer base. The cost of ESX or ESXi is already inflated, but in the past this has been overlooked due to the quality of the software in relation other offerings from Microsoft or the Open Source community. Virtualization admins were willing to pay the "VMware tax" in order receive the superior product, and get great support when needed.

It's now 2011. Things have changed a bit. This pricing/licensing gaffe by VMware has forced administrators to evaluate other hypervisors being offered by Microsoft, Citrix, and even the Open Source community.

The feature gap between Microsofts Hyper-V and VMwares vSphere has definitely gotten narrower. There are a few notable disparities that may or may not affect you:

  • Storage vMotion - Storage vMotion allows ESX to move the disk files that make up the storage and configuration of a virtual machine to another location, with no interruption of service to the virtual machine. Very cool stuff that allows you to move VM storage around say, when your storage system gets upgraded, or you want to move a VM to a higher or lower quality of disks. While Hyper-V R2 does allow you to perform Storage Migrations or Quick Storage Migrations, "minimal service outage" for users of the virtual machine.
  • Distributed Switch - Let's say you have a 16 node virtualization cluster. In that cluster, you would normally have to build a vSwitch on each host, defining VLANs and other settings for the switch. If the configuration is not identical on each switch, then your pooched, and vMotions will fail. Among other things. This is where VMWares distributed switch (available in the Enterprise Plus edition) comes in. A Distributed Switch allows you build a switch once, and distribute across all hosts in the cluster. Very slick stuff. As of this writing, there is no such available in Hyper-V. This may be a show stopper for some, but in my particular environment, we wouldn't use distributed switching, so Enterprise Plus was not justified for purchase.
  • Memory Overcommit - Memory overcommitment is a technique available in vSphere that allows administrators to allocate more RAM to virtual machines than is physically available in the host. Think of it as thin provisioning for RAM. I've never been a fan of thin provisioning or over-commit of any sort. Hyper-V currenly does not support Memory Overcommit. It just leads to bad times when resources get tight.

Then of course, there is the cost. Let's take a look at a configuration of 5 servers, each with 2 sockets, and a 2-year service agreement.

VMWare ESXi licenses by the socket. So if you use server hardware with 2 sockets, you buy two licenses. So for our installation, ESXi will cost us $42,125, or $8,425 per server, or $4,212.50 per socket.

But how are you going to manage this cluster? You'll need to buy VCenter, along with another two year service agreement. This will cost you an additional $7,318, just to manage your hosts.

So the total for VMware on five hosts, each with 2 sockets, comes to $49,443.

On to Microsoft Hyper-V, working with the same configuration of five hosts, 2 sockets, and a two year service agreement.

Hyper-V itself is free. It comes either as a standalone product downloadable from the Microsoft website, or as a role in Windows Server 2008 R2.

Now you need management of the hosts. For that you'll need the System Center Management Suite, which provides monitoring and management for not just your virtual infrastructure, but physical gear as well. This will set you back about $7,500, with a two year service agreement.

To get the complete automation of the environment, you'll need to include Operations Manager and Configuration Manager in the SCMS, with a cost of about $580 each, or $1,160.

Grand total for Microsoft Hyper-V comes to $8,660.

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? It depends.

If you are happy with VMware, then stick with it. My advice to you would be to carefully tally up your current configuration. Then factor in future growth. Based on this research, do a cost and feature comparison between the different virtualization offerings from VMware, Microsoft, Cirtrix, and even the Open Source community. A single virtualization solution does not fit everybody. Do your homework, and you'll find the one that is right for you.

As for me, I will be switching over to Microsoft for my hypervisor of choice. There are two main reasons for this change: Cost and Support.

The latest change to the price structure is what caused me to look at other packages. I currently utilize the Enterprise edition on 99% of my host, mainly for capacity reasons, with the main feature being vMotion. Since I don't utlize a number of the other featurs in VMWare, why should I pay for them ? I can get the features that use in Hyper-V, for a much lower cost.

Also, the level of support that I have received from VMware has steadily declined over the last 3 years. Recently, I had a problem with DRS and/or vMotion, in which all fourteen hosts would become unresponsive when a DRS initiated vMotion happened, but only with certain machines. The problem was easy to reproduce, too. I opened the ticket on April 19. Over the next two months, I sent two sets of log files to the tech, and by June 13 I closed the ticket myself out of frustration, having never received a solution or proposed solution from the tech. I ended up anchoring the troublesome VMs to a particular host, so they couldn't migrate.

This migration will definitely be an adventure, though.

About the Author

FortyPoundHead has posted a total of 1974 articles.


Comments On This Post

By: dwirch
Date: 2011-08-21

One thing that you'll have to watch out for is the lower VM density available on HyperV hosts. It's just a bit less. For my installation, we average about 25 guests per host, so no big change for us.

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