I read this post by Nate over at TechOpsGuys about Hyper-V vs VMware. It’s a good read and Nate brings several salient points to discussing the challenges facing VMware in the future as Hyper-V comes into feature parity with VMware.
This was my response to his post, I’m thinking of digging a lot deeper into this, but I wanted to go all stream of conciousness and get this out while it was still fresh.
I think that sometimes it’s easy to let the environment you manage color your perception of how we think others are deploying and managing technology as a whole. I know that when I write about certain aspects of technology that I will lean heavily on the assets I manage on a daily basis, its my familiarity with those systems that allow me to speak with authority about them. I sometimes take for granted that other IT shops do things differently, or may see my approach as not going to work for them. It’s very easy to generalize and jump to conclusions.
I actually had a boss that would tell me that “cost is no issue” for every project I worked on. I knew full well that cost was the over-riding issue and would architect 3 different scenarios for each project, the “cost is no issue”, the “what I think we would really need to meet the projects needs”, and the budget solution. Invariably, the budget solution would be the one that management opted for and I’d have to make due with it. I think it really depends on the type of corporate culture at a given company as to whether cost will be an issue or not. Some companies still love to hate their IT departments, and will do their best to make due with as little as possible and take the risk that they will survive a real disaster. Others will throw money at IT and waste it as they cluelessly look for a solution to a perceived problem. I know of a company that bought an XIV system to test a workload, and then pulled all the drives and shredded them after the test due to the sensitivity of the data and their internal policies. Yes, there is close to 800K down the drain, that’s the annual IT budget for lots of shops.
I can’t make a comparison of Hyper-V3 to VMware until it’s actually released. I refuse to take marketecture as fact, especially in the case of Microsoft products. I most certainly will not deploy any MS product until at least SP1 has come out. Those burns refuse to heal.
We are 80/20 Windows/Linux so for us the benefits involved with memory management within VMware work well. Linux workloads, not so well, that may improve since VMware has Linux proficiency, will it with Hyper-V, I doubt it. We have achieved densities of around 35:1 with our existing host infrastructure. I don’t know of any Hyper-V shops currently getting that level with production class workloads.
I’ve yet to see a third party that I trust provide the cost comparison between Hyper-V and VMware. Those of us with MS ELA’s can get discounts at a significant level, but then there’s all the extra costs involved. Sure the hypervisor is free, but you want to manage it? Well that’s where its going to cost you plenty.
You’re right that VMware is expensive, and it’s going to get even more expensive as time goes on. The licensing fiasco for vSphere5 may have left people’s minds as time has gone by, but I tend to see it as VMware adopting some aspects of the Oracle pricing model. Oracle can charge what it does because they know they have many of their customers over a barrel. VMware is approaching that threshold with a fair number of large installs. Sure the SMB market may have the flexibility to move to Hyper-V, but your shops with 1000+ VM’s and all the infrastructure built out to support them will be hard pressed to make the move. This will mean that you will see shops keeping their older, and cheaper, versions of VMware unless there is a true benefit to upgrade.
If you look at the features being crafted with each subsequent release of vSphere, you will see that they are nearly all confined to IO performance, and Storage management/offload. In robust environments, this is where the pain point continues to manifest. In the general VMware populace at large, its memory constraints, but for those groups pushing the envelope, and running the 85-100% virtualized platform, IO and Storage Constraints are key. I think that’s why you see VMware doing what they are with the VAAI primitives, and Storage DRS.
As for Hyper-V, meh, good enough doesn’t cut it in my current organization. Then there is the lack of a real ecosystem devoted to Hyper-V and products that I can leverage. Sure as the market share increases, the ecosystem will develop, but really if I’m going to stake my job on production workloads and the SLA’s required, I’m not going to settle.
Bottom line, I don’t doubt that feature parity is coming, but is it too late in the game for that vast swath of VMware customer base to make the change mid-stream? Sure shops may go evaluate Hyper-V and use it for test/dev and in the case of some shops production. Still, given my own scenario, I don’t see Hyper-V making any headway in our organization, and as such, for many shops it will be a decision they ultimately have to make.
I do think that at some point the hypervisor will be given away free, it essentially is now, it’s the management that will cost you. So if you want to run 100 ESXi hosts of vSpher5 with 64GB of RAM and two sockets, then get crafty with scripting, you can essentially run a hypervisor cost of zero. Still the amount of time to manage and craft that solution may cost you as much, if not more than paying for the licenses.