Podcast: Virtual Machine Manager + Hyper-V Live Migration = Enterprise Ready

Does Live Migration put Hyper-V at parity and for how long?

Hard to believe it's only been a few years since Microsoft launched Hyper-V. Even more amazing is the progress it has made in that short period of time. With the Windows Server 2008 R2 update we're seeing not just an improved Hyper-V, but Hyper-V with Live Migration. Live Migration is the one feature VMware and Xen could hold over Hyper-V and claim Hyper-V's not production ready for enterprises.

During my podcast interview with Kenon Owens, Technical Product Manager on Microsoft's Integrated Virtualization Team, we discussed the Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 release candidate and how it facilitates Live Migration in Windows Server 2008 R2 that just went RTM a few few weeks ago.

It turns out more than just Live Migration support was required in WS 2008 R2 in order for Microsoft to get Live Migration into customers hands. Essential to Live Migration is a new feature called Quick Storage Migration, the ability to move running virtual disks from one logical unit (LUN) to another LUN. The Hyper-V instance we're "live migrating" too has to have access to the same virtual disks so that transition can occur. Clustered Shared Volumes also helps by allowing you to share multiple virtual machine access a single LUN. But with Hyper-V Live Migration, everything may not all be apples to apples. Some reports are that it takes 30 seconds to transition to a new virtual instance during a failure, whereas VMware's VMotion reportedly takes less.

While Microsoft is just now in the process of getting Live Migration to market, VMware hasn't been standing still. VMware has the cloud services offering and a new API (well, new in 2008) called the VMsafe API. I find VMsafe pretty interesting because it allows an external program (like security software for instance) to have access inside individual virtual machines. Now, you don't want that capability falling into the wrong hands, but VMware appears to be betting VMsafe API will give them a leg up against the tide of security questions being raised about virtualization. If VMware can successful market themselves as the "secure hypervisor" because of VMsafe, well, that will become the next big thing other virtualization products like Hyper-V don't have. Time will tell if VMsafe wins over the security community (and it hasn't yet), but it takes more than just an API, it will require additional security products developed by VMware third party ISVs to deliver on what VMsafe has to offer (and we haven't seen much of that yet either).

Since most of us are pretty new to using Hyper-V's Live Migration, we'll just have to see how and if Hyper-V R2 plus System Center Virtual Machine Manager R2 takes the day, or if VMware and Citrix Xen can keep two or more paces ahead of Microsoft's Hyper-V.

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