Hyper-V R2 vs VMware… decisions decisions

(apologies to anyone who reads my posts on Edugeek or other tech forums as you might be getting a feeling of deja vu after reading this!)


I’m getting to the point when I’m going to have to make the big decisions about which platform and hardware for our virtualisation project this year. When I think about the entire package the platform we choose will impact on other decisions as well. Looking at Hyper-V R2 and VMWare there’s a key areas I’m looking at…

Stability
• VMWare is obviously the more mature platform and was my initial choice just based on the fact it’s the recognised best-of-breed product for many people
• From discussions at BETT with techs other colleges there do seem to be more people putting faith in Hyper-V, especially since the R2 release

Technical
The main features that affect us would probably be…

• Memory overcommit, if we go Hyper-V we need to make sure any host has enough RAM to take the VMs from any other host as it can’t do VMWare-style RAM overcommit. Note: this feature or something similar seems to be coming in R2 SP1

Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta

• NIC teaming seems to be a bit of a worry on Hyper-V as it’s not officially supported (?) and seems to be down to how well the NIC drivers are working. We’re also going down the VLAN route so we can consolidate our networks so need to check how well a teamed \ VLAN tagged configuration works in Hyper-V. I’m working on the logic that for redundancy \ bandwidth we’d need NICs across separate physical cards teamed up…

• Hyper-V CSVs seem to work OK but don’t look quite as robust as VMFS, should do the job though
• Live Migration on Hyper-V is working OK in my test environment, one restriction is that only one live migration can be taking place at any one time compared to VMWare allowing multiple migrations but don’t think that’s a major issue for us

• Hyper-V won’t support Linux host OS unless we Enterprise Linux distributions, not ideal as we do use a few Linux boxes for some open-source apps
• OS patching; I can imagine Hyper-V will require more patches to the underlying OS compared to VMWare so I guess that links in with the migration and stability questions above

Backup
• If we go down the Hyper-V route we can use DPM 2010 to backup via the VMs, software is basically free for us under Campus License with minimal cost on the agents
• If we go VMWare we could still use DPM but it would have to be via agents installed on the host. The other option would be something like Veeam, which seems to be quite well regarded. We currently have Backup Exec but looking at the options we’re wondering if it’s worth the money we spend on it each year. DPM does seem to be either loved or hated by people at the moment so would be interested to hear from anyone using it.

The future \ VDI
This is where I lean towards Hyper-V. From the discussions we had in December there’s still some way to go with VDI as a complete solution but we have a few rooms where it could do a job for us (student public use machines etc) and with Microsoft we’ll basically get those features for free. What with the developments they’ve made with RemoteFX I think MS might get ahead of View on this one.

So what I’m wondering is that if you didn’t have any virtual infrastructure in place and based on the current marketplace, pricing, features etc which would you go for? I wonder if my reasons for choosing VMWare are based on looking backwards at what it’s done whereas the reasoning for Hyper-V seem to be looking forwards to new solutions.

My head says VMWare but money-wise says Hyper-V will allow me to get my wireless project with the money I save! Over to the floor, which way are you headed?

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