Clash of the Titans: Microsoft and Sun spar over HYPER-V

When we are talking about tools for "A Better Windows World", there is no way I could avoid talking about Hyper-V. What Hyper-V means to the Windows enterprise I will touch upon in the later weeks. I wanted to however share first what I thought was an interesting and quite frankly expected response. Sun's Senior Director of xVM Vijay Sarathy commented on the release of Hyper-V and how Sun’s xVM is offering support for all major operating systems (including Windows). Vijay also had some tough questions for Microsoft about its Hyper-V release. My co-author and colleague J. Peter Bruzzese recently spoke with Patrick O'Rourke at Microsoft and long-time technology guru Greg Shields. Peter obtained their responses to Sun’s questions. Patrick is a group product manager within Microsoft's Core Infrastructure Marketing, Server and Tools Business. Shields is the co-founder and IT guru with Concentrated Technology and has extensive experience in systems administration, engineering and architecture specializing in Microsoft, virtualization and systems management technologies. Peter has generously granted me permission to share the information with my readers. Therefore, without further fan fare I present to you the virtualization fight of the century. OK perhaps not the fight of the century, but you must admit it builds your anticipation. SUN 1. Live migration is an important feature for customers to handle unplanned outages, as Sun and VMware have demonstrated through inclusion of live migration capabilities in their hypervisors. How will Hyper-V meet customers' migration needs without live migration? MICROSOFT O'Rourke: Virtualization and high availability go hand-in-hand. If you're virtualizing today without high availability, then you should reevaluate that strategy. Windows Server 2008 Enterprise and Datacenter editions provide Hyper-V and integrated failover clustering at no additional charge. In the case of unplanned downtime, VMotion can't live migrate because there is no warning. Instead you must have VMware HA configured, and the best it can do is restart the affected virtual machines on other nodes, which is the same as what is provided with Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and integrated Failover Clustering. And nearly three weeks ago at TechEd North America, Bob Muglia announced that live migration will be in the next version of Hyper-V. SUN 2. Enterprises are widely adopting open source technologies in order to give their customers access to bleeding-edge features and functionalities. How do you see the proprietary Hyper-V competing with open source Xen-based hypervisors from Citrix and Sun? MICROSOFT O'Rourke: IDC, Gartner and others also indicate that enterprises are widely adopting proprietary software. We know our customers drive innovation using a mix of open source and proprietary software. As it relates to Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, we expect IT pros, admins, developers and others who are familiar and know Windows will be excited by Hyper-V. It's the Windows they know. And for those not familiar with Windows, they know that we have done extensive work with Citrix (initially XenSource) and Novell to ensure hypervisor compatibility and OS support on each others' hypervisors. Customers running multiple hypervisors (and many will) will benefit from this work, as well as our open interfaces, standards work, and the fact that Microsoft's Virtual Hard Drive image format and Hypercall APIs are available under Open Specification Promise. Shields: Citrix's Xen-based virtualization solution isn't really open source anymore. Yes, the core of it is. But people will be buying Citrix's proprietary and for-cost management utilities to run it. S, the play there is muted. Also, as far as I know, Xen remains a heavy Linux-based solution, something that won't play well in Microsoft-centric shops. Hence, Microsoft's Windows focus for Hyper-V. This is a product that is friendly to the Windows admin who doesn't know and doesn't want to learn Xen's heavy Linux requirements. SUN 3. Hyper-V only addresses Windows-based servers despite the fact that most datacenters are incredibly heterogeneous and require support for more than just Windows workloads. Aren't you underestimating the complexity and diversity of your customers' datacenters? MICROSOFT O'Rourke: No we're not. Our customers make sure we know their datacenter needs and provide us input on how we can help. So far they're telling us Windows Server 2008 has been a big help. As for Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V, it allows customers to consolidate applications running Novell SLES 10. As for Red Hat, Microsoft and Red Hat both realize the importance of virtualization and interoperability needs of our joint customers, and we are actively discussing how to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V. Shields: Hyper-V doesn't address only Windows-based VMs. It supports SLES as well. Microsoft's support for additional Linux OSes is muted because Microsoft hasn't seen the demand for it. They're demanding a rock-stable virtualization platform that supports some of their workloads. Why do a poor job being all things to everyone when you can do a great job fixing a specific market segment? Going along this road further, SCVMM [System Center Virtual Machine Manager] includes support for managing the Xens and ESXs of the world. Let those virtualization platforms do the oddball OS virtualizing, and let Microsoft handle its own product stable. SUN 4. How do you see Hyper-V aiding in the reduction of energy consumption when it can only consolidate Windows-based servers? MICROSOFT O'Rourke: There's no greater way for customers to reduce power consumption than to consolidate the number of servers being used, and obviously Hyper-V will be used to do that. Beyond that, Windows Server 2008 provides customers features and technologies, some of which were not available in Windows Server 2003, that will help to reduce the power consumption of server and client operating systems, minimize environmental by-products, and increase server efficiency. Download the white paper here. Shields: Again, there's a sizable percentage of environments that are mostly Microsoft-based. It was reported yesterday that virtualization as a generic solution only has a 10% penetration so far. That leaves a lot of Microsoft servers (and a lot of all kinds of servers) that can still be virtualized. SUN 5. Microsoft has been criticized for not being able to scale and grow with its customers. How do you address that? MICROSOFT O'Rourke: In fiscal 2007, Microsoft reported revenue of $51 billion, 12% growth, R&D investment of nearly 13% of revenue, more than 78,000 employees in 103 countries. Given that, I'm sure Microsoft can scale and grow with our customers. Shields: Check out Hyper-V. This product is designed to scale. As an example, the MSDN and TechNet Web sites have both been running atop Hyper-V for a number of weeks now. This entails a lot of servers getting hit a lot of times – 4 million hits per day, to be precise – and is a brilliant move on the part of Microsoft in proving its product. SUN 6. How do you plan to manage physical infrastructure with Hyper-V? MICROSOFT O'Rourke: Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V is a hypervisor, not a systems management tool. For management, customers can use System Center to configure, deploy, operate and backup both virtual and non-virtualized applications and operating systems. And customers can use the beta of System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 to manage VMs running within Hyper-V, Virtual Server 2005, or VMs running within VMware ESX Server. System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 tightly integrates with System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 to deliver a new feature called Performance and Resource Optimization (PRO). SCOM 2007 identifies opportunities for more efficient physical and virtual resource allocation and generates PRO tips within the Virtual Machine Manager console. Administrators can implement these PRO tips and dynamically optimize their datacenter based upon pre-defined policies and the real-time, changing demands of users. System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 is scheduled to be released in early Q4 this year. Shields: I think Patrick said it all. Interesting debate and I think that in this case I’ll give (at least this round) to Microsoft. What is your opinion? Have any further questions about the future of Hyper-V, leave me a comment and let me know. I would love to hear what others are thinking on the subject. Recent Posts Windows Steady State: Shared Access computing tool A Better Windows World Tools Library Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2: Activities, WebSlices and Security…Oh My!

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