How does VMware vSphere 5.5 compare to the competition?

VMworld 2013.png

Yesterday VMware release vSphere 5.5 which includes many new features and enhancements, again raising the bar for the competition.

But how does VMware vSphere 5.5 relate to Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer 6.2 or RedHat RHEV 3.2? Check out our new Enterprise Hypervisor comparison in which I added the new vSphere 5.5 features and enhancements.

VMware continues to lead

The virtualization landscape is evolving. Nowadays two-thirds of x86 server workloads are virtualized, the market is mature and competitive and enterprises are evaluating the cost-benefits of switching technologies more than ever.

For years and years VMware has been the clear market leader but Microsoft and Citrix have been trying to close the gap. Besides those three virtual giants, RedHat, Oracle and Parallels have been trying to get a piece of the pie.

Last week Gartner published their annual Magic Quadrant for x86 Server virtualization. Let’s see how the virtualization landscape has changed in the last year.

magic quadrant 2013When we compare this magic quadrant with the one from 2012, we see that Oracle, Parallels and RedHat maintain the niche players. Personally I’ve never come across any Oracle, Parallels or RedHat virtual environments and I’ve seen my share of companies, from smaller SMB to large enterprises.

When we look at the big three, Citrix, Microsoft and VMware, we see that Citrix dropped out of the magic upper-right quadrant. Why?


How to license Windows 8 in a VMware Horizon View deployment

MicrosoftAgreementsWaterfallIt is a common misunderstanding that, if you buy software licenses you can do anything with it. You will not become the owner of it, you only get the use right of the software under STRICT CONDITIONS. What you may or may not do with Microsoft software is recorded to the smallest details by Microsoft in several documents, like the End User License Agreement (e.g. Enterprise Agreement), Product Lists and Product Use Rights.

Only a few people read all those documents, but in general nobody reads them all. They just buy the licenses and think are correct or are offered by their IT supplier. Always check with a license expert that what you want to achieve complies with what is possible with the licenses you want to acquire. This prevents disappointment and high costs later on.

I wrote a post on licensing Windows 7 in a VMware Horizon View environment and most things mentioned in that post are still valid also for Windows 8. Below I will zoom into changes or summarize important facts for a complete understanding.


VDI optimization script (part 2)

unravelingIn my previous article I wrote about a VDI optimization script from Microsoft for Windows 8 and Windows 7. This article focuses on the features and services you could disable or adjust to increase the performance of your VDI desktops. There are a lot of changes that can be made and you might want to decide which change you do or do not use within your own infrastructure. Running the script in it’s default form could very well not be the way that you want it to be.

In this article I will try to explain the script in such a way that you should be able to read it and take out the parts that you want to use. Maybe after looking at the script you decide that you don’t want to use the script in itself, but it at least will show you where you can make the changes and choose your own way of applying it. So lets get started…


VDI optimization script (part 1)

Car repairIn the summer of 2010 Erik wrote an article about “How to: Optimize guests for VMware View” in which he describes all sorts of changes he makes for a Windows XP or Windows 7 virtual desktop in a VDI environment. The changes that are suggested in the article are still valid, but after reading them I was wondering if there are new additions, specifically with Windows 8 now on the market. During my search I quickly came across a Visual Basic script that was released by Microsoft on their Technet site for optimization of a Windows 8 virtual desktop.

At the beginning of the script there is a disclaimer that you should have knowledge of the vb scripting language and that you should proceed with caution. Since the script is fairly long and a lot of changes are being made I decided to break the script down and put this in a table to give an overview of the services and settings being changed. As the title of the article indicates this is part 1 of the article, in part 2 I will try to explain the different pieces of the script in such a way that more people might understand what is happening inside the script.

While putting everything into a table I also looked if these changes could be made for a Windows 7 desktop too. The table is divided in several parts (and one bullet list) to provide some more overview to the whole.


Hyper-V? Not in my datacenter… (continued)

Simon Cowel NOIn 2008 I wrote an article named “Hyper-V, not in my datacenter!” which was based on Hyper-V version 1. In 2009 I wrote an article named “Hyper-V, the laughter continues” and “ESX vs Hyper-V mythbusting myth” which was based on Hyper-V version 2.

Microsoft promised/warned us that with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V version 3 this would all be history. But as Sander wrote in a more recent article named “Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: overpromising and underdelivering” this turned out to be a marketing statement based on a premature product with no suitable management tools.

But now with the release of System Center 2012 Service Pack 1, Hyper -V version 3 should be the VMware vSphere-killer (according to MS).

Too bad, the sequel continues! Yesterday Edwin pointed me to a great article by Justin Paul, a fellow blogger, vExpert, VCP and EMC specialist, in which he describes his recent struggles with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V.
True, in the last four point Justin refers to some information which is a bit outdated, but he has a valid point stating “Then explain why it happened to a 2012 hyperV cluster if it is fixed ?” when people in the comment section claim that Microsoft solved this in the new version of Hyper-V. Apparently they weren’t fixed.

When I read Justin’s comments on the CSV issues and the hassle to setup a Hyper-V environment, I stand by my earlier position, this is not a product which I trust to base my enterprise IT infrastructure on. So still, “Hyper-V? Not in my datacenter…”.

Check out Justin’s article on “Justin’s IT Blog”.

Multi-hypervisor management with VMware vCenter

SVMware_logohortly after the release of vCenter 5.1, VMware released “vCenter Multi-Hypervisor Manager 1.0″. With this product you as an administrator are able to manage third party hypervisors like Microsoft’s Hyper-V from within your vCenter installment.

This will give companies more flexibility over what hypervisors they are able to use and thus use the hypervisor they need for each specific situation.

Multi-Hypervisor manager can be installed on the server which also contains the vCenter installation or can be on a separate server. The installation process is pretty straightforward (depending on your installation and security profile, you may have to open up some extra ports). After the installation on the server you will only need to download and install the plugin for the vSphere client (installing the plugin). After the plugin is installed you can open a separate inventory from the vSphere client homepage that will show you all 3th party hosts and their virtual machines.



How to improve VMware View video performance – Part 2

Fastandfurious6During a performance optimizing session this week, with a customer, we found some interesting things to boost specific parts of the environment. While playing a high resolution video with clipping where the whole screen turns black and shows a new screen a split second later.

When we started, we saw the video bump and freeze from time to time. Also we experienced ghost lines on the middle of the screen, where the upper part of the screen moved first while the bottom part tried to keep up. We used the Fast & Furious 6 Official Trailer in an 1080p format for testing. The the business news running in an embedded Windows media player on Internet Explorer 9 didn’t perform well either.

The vDesktop is a Windows 7 Enterprise desktop with 2GB memory and 2 vCPU so it can play native 720p videos when necessary as Erik mentioned in his post. We are running the VMware View environment on an Imtech built Flexpod with NetApp storage, Cisco UCS computing power and Cisco Nexus switching for VMware vSphere and VMware View 5.


PCoIP Support for Microsoft RDS


This week Teradici, creator of the PCoIP protocol, released a technology preview of their new product named Teradici Arch. Teradici Arch is asoftware-based solution that enables the use of the PCoIP protocol for Microsoft  RDS as an alternative to Microsoft RDP.

This should provide better user experience and access to the entire PCoIP ecosystem, PCoIP thin clients, APEX accelerator cards, etc.

Teradici has been forced to delay the release of Arch due to a scalability issue but a new tech preview will still allow enterprises to familiarize themselves with the product. The final product release is expected in Q3 2013.

This solution should be an ideal solution for enterprises with mixed environment of VMware View VDI and Microsoft RDS. I wonder how many of these mixed environments exist. The only mixed PCoIP/RDP environments I have seen in my work are View environments where both protocols are used to connect to the same View desktops to use MMR instead of PCoIP acceleration.

The PCoIP protocol is now available for use with terminal services for more performance over any network type and access to the PCoIP ecosystem of products including low maintenance, ultra-secure zero clients. Teradici Arch enables customers to:


Enterprise Hypervisor feature comparison (RHEV added)

Back by popular demand, the Enterprise Hypervisor feature comparison.

After the release of our latest comparison I’ve received a lot of requests to include RedHat’s RHEV to the comparison. Although I’ve never encountered it in enterprise environments, I decided to add it as a service to our readers.

I based the RedHat features on their 3.1 version which is in beta right now. This is because I’ve limited knowledge of the product and I received an updated comparison from one of our readers based on this version.

I hope you find the new Enterprise Hypervisor comparison useful and feel free to contact us when you have feedback for us to improve the list.

New: Veeam Backup & Replication v6.5


Last week Veeam made their newest version of Backup & Replication v6.5 available. Veeam published their latest version as having the “WOW-factor”. Let’s have a look at the new features and see if it really has the WOW-factor.

First: Veeam Backup & replication 6.5 now fully supports VMware vSphere 5.1 and Windows 2012 Hyper-V. With the support of those two platforms they are the first to be doing so.

Second: Even though Backup & replication uses no agents it is now able to restore e-mails, calendars or contacts from a user’s Exchange mailbox without restoring a entire mailbox first. With the explorer capabilities you can simply browse through your backups, select a user’s mailbox and select the item that you want to recover.


Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: overpromising and underdelivering

A few weeks ago Microsoft released Windows Server 2012 and with it also Hyper-V 3. Hyper-V logoThe newest release of Hyper-V has some great improvements and new features which will in some cases definitely challenge VMware. To make use of these features and to manage your entire environment you need a management tool, just like VMware vSphere uses vCenter Server.

However at the time of writing, Hyper-V has no management tooling available. Normally System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012 (which is part of the System Center 2012 suite) would be used to manage the Hyper-V infrastructure. But the current version of System Center can’t handle Windows Server 2012, meaning no management for Hyper-V 3 servers either. The support for Windows Server 2012 is coming with the release of SP1 for System Center 2012 which will probably be released somewhere at the end of Q4 2012 or Q1 2013.

“It’s like selling a car without a steering wheel, dangerous and unsuitable for every day use.”


NEW Enterprise Hypervisor comparison

Two weeks ago VMware released the new version of their vSphere hypervisor, so it’s time to update our Enterprise Hypervisor comparison. It very impressive to see how quick VMware has reacted to the Hyper-V 3 announcements and has taken most of the wind out of the Microsoft sails.

I hope you find the new Enterprise Hypervisor comparison useful and feel free to contact us when you have feedback for us to improve the list.
The information on Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V features is very inconsistent, many different values out there.

In this version I added 10 new criteria. Many of these criteria should, in my opinion, be available in hypervisors suitable for enterprise environments.

You can find the new and improved Enterprise Hypervisor comparison here.

Last update: August 27th, 2013

Microsoft SQL 2012 Licensing in a VMware environment – Part One

More and more Microsoft SQL Servers are being deployed virtually in a VMware environment, but how can you license them correctly?

Microsoft changed their licensing again on April 1st, 2012. With the general availability of SQL Server 2012, the changes around SQL licensing are live.

 Some highlights are:

  • There are three main editions now:
    • Standard
    • Business Intelligence
    • Enterprise.

The Web edition is now only available for Service Providers through the SPLA license agreement.

  • Per CPU licensing is no more. You have two types of licensing only:
    • Core-Based
    • Server+CAL licensing.

Microsoft chose this way because virtualization is on its way to 100%, server hardware gets more powerful over time, doubling cores every 18 months. Also companies demand more flexibility with workloads traveling between private and public clouds.

  • Furthermore Microsoft tries to simplify and make licensing more predictable for customers with evolving infrastructures.


VMware View will support Microsoft Lync 2013

When deploying a VDI solution it is important to deliver PC like experience. Another requirement is delivering PC-grade applications on the VDI desktop. This is possible for the majority of office applications but applications that require (near) real-time two way audio and/or video, like Unified Communication solutions, remain a challenge.

The cause of this is the need to encode and decode voice and video. It isn’t feasible at scale to carry raw voice/video data from the endpoint to the datacenter to be encoded, or to decode it all there and send the video/audio data to the endpoint.

That is why development of Unified Communication solutions like Microsoft Lync are important to VDI vendors who need to continually reassure IT and end-users that the user experience will be the same as if they were working in a traditional personal computer.

Today, VMware announced that VMware is working with Microsoft to bring support for Microsoft Lync to VMware View desktops. The combination of VDI with Unified Communications leads to increased productivity, mobility and flexibility for employees, customers and partners alike. Soon, VMware View users will be able to communicate and collaborate with the Lync 2013 client, using rich voice and video features, all from within the VMware View desktop.


StarWind and Windows Server 2012 Scale-Out Servers

StarwindThursday 12th there was a press release by StarWind stating “StarWind completely eliminates the need for shared storage when implementing Windows Server 2012 Scale-out file servers”. At first, while reading the title, I was a bit confused. Starwind itself offers shared storage solutions with it’s software. But after reading the article, it´s clear that the intention is to eliminate the implementation of hardware-based storage solutions.


StarWind Offers Free NFR Licenses for Lab Testing, Demonstration, and Training Purposes

Starwind is an innovative company and one of the first to offer an iSCSI initiator on the Microsoft Windows platform without a lot of hassle. The company offers Not For Resale (NFR) licenses to some specific groups of IT professionals.

If you hold or are one of the following:

  • VMware vExpert
  • VMware Certified Instructor (VCI)
  • Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)
  • Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT)
  • Citrix Technology Professional (CTP)
  • Citrix Certified Instructor (CCI).

you can get a free NFR license for its best-of-breed High Availability SAN solutions software to fuel your Lab. What do you need to do?


MigrationWiz: E-mail migration to the cloud

MigrationWizFor a recent customers I have been working on migrating e-mail from several completely separated e- mail infrastructures to one Office 365 environment. To achieve this the customer has chosen to use a product called MigrationWiz.

This product is offered as a web based service/cloud solution.

With MigrationWiz you setup a connection to both a source and destination. After setting up the connection(s) you can start the migration. MigrationWiz will download the data from a mailbox at the source to it’s own infrastructure and then upload it to the designated target mailbox. The picture below illustrates the process.