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.

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True, in the last four point Justin refers to some information which is a bit outdated, but he has a valid point stating “Then explain why it happened to a 2012 hyperV cluster if it is fixed ?”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.



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

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?

(more…) at Microsoft’s Techdays 2012

Last weekend I received an invitation to attend the Microsoft Techdays 2012 in The Hague (Netherlands).

Because I’d like to keep a broad view and I want to be able to evaluate and judge techniques based on a complete solution, I changed my calender and accepted the invitation.

Unfortunately I missed the keynote session because traffic was a nightmare that morning.

Configuring & deploying a private cloud with System Center 2012
The first session I attended was “Configuring & deploying a private cloud with System Center 2012″. Looking at the demo, System Center Virtual Machine Manager is very much like vCenter Server 5 but with a touch of vCloud Director in it. This requires administrators to use a different, cloud based mindset. Based on my experience with vCloud Director and the fact that cloud based solutions elevate the complexity level, I think this may be an obstacle. Also, because a private cloud is nothing more or less than a private datacenter setup, I don’t prefer a cloud based approach here. On the other hand, this approach eliminates the need for a different method for private or public cloud solutions.

The item I really like is the application template functionality. With this you can create a template for a SQL, Sharepoint or Exchange server, which further reduces service implementation time and quality. This is really an area where Microsoft benefits from being the application owner/developer.


Veeam Backup & Replication v6 released

VeeamThis week Veeam released their latest version of their Backup & Replication software “Veeam Backup & Replication v6“. With their latest release they offer enhanced scalability and performance.

They also add support for Microsoft Hyper-V so you can protect your multi-hypervisor environment with only one product, from a single console.

New features in version 6 are:

  • A new distributed architecture for better scalability. Deployment and Maintenance for remote office and large installations are simplified;
  • Advanced replication by combining both backup and replication in to one solution;
  • Multi-hypervisor support with the new support for Microsoft Hyper-V. The console let’s you manage both VMware and Hyper-V hosts from a single console;
  • 1-Click file restore is an enhancement on the existing “Instant File-Level Recovery” reducing the number of steps needed from 10 to 1.


Updated Enterprise hypervisor comparison

During the last few years we published several Enterprise Hypervisor comparisons and we got very positive comments and feedback on it. With the release of vSphere 5, XenServer 6 and a service pack for Hyper-V it was time for an update.

It very interesting to see how some of the products have improved over the years and how the three major manufacturers look at each other and copy features. But you can’t trust all manufacturers by just a simple green checkbox. Some claimed features need third party add-ons, aren’t suitable for production workloads or are only supported on a limited set of operating systems. You have to investigate further and I hope I’ve done most of that work for you with this new enterprise hypervisor comparison.


VMware is still the best! Virtualisation Shootout april 2011 Virtualisation Shootout april 2011

Of course we all knew that already :) Paul Venezia posted an in depth article on Infoworld where he compares the four main server virtualization software competitors on a selection of criteria.

Now, you can nit-pick on the measurements he made or the criteria he has chosen, but in general I think it’s a solid test of up-to-date versions.

The best conclusions I can draw from his report are these:

VMware might not always be the cheapest, VMware might not always be the one with the highest speeds.. but VMware is still the one with the most diverse OS support (any x86 OS can be virtualized), the best management toolkit and the most reliable architecture.



New Enterprise Hypervisor comparison


Last year we published an Enterprise Hypervisor comparison and we got very positive comments and feedback on it.

During the last few weeks I received many update requests so I decided to update the old hypervisor comparison but this time I changed the setup a bit.


  • No beta or pre-release versions are used. In the last document we also compared Hyper-V R2 beta which wasn’t officially released.
    This time all software is available and no features are subject to change due to beta-test, etc.;
  • The versions used are the platinum/ultimate/fully-featured versions of the hypervisors. Product features can be limited by lower license versions;
  • No free versions have been used in this comparison.


Oracle VM, things they do not tell

Last week a colleague, who sells applications running on an Oracle Database, had some questions regarding Oracle and running it in a Virtual Machine (VM) on top of a VMware infrastructure with a customer.

1) How to license Oracle in a virtual environment?

I pointed him to an article about licensing the Oracle software in a virtual environment I wrote some time ago.

Oracle can namely be hard- and soft partitioned, where VMware, XenServer, Hyper V and Oracle VM are all marked as soft partitioning, while looking into the way Oracle VM can be hard partitioned I stumbled on the following how to do it:

There are two methods to pin virtual CPUs. You can use the xm command to pin a guests’s virtual CPUs or you can hardcode the CPU mapping in a guest’s vm.cfg file. The difference between pinning CPUs with xm and hard coding the CPU mapping in a guest’s vm.cfg file is the persistence of the CPU mapping. CPUs that are pinned with xm are not persistent between reboots. Hard coding the CPU mapping in a guest’s vm.cfg file is persistent between reboots. To comply with Oracle’s hard partitioning policy, you must hardcode the CPU mapping in a guest’s vm.cfg file.


The real value of Project VRC

About two weeks ago I attended a session at the VMware User Group meeting here in the Netherlands about Project VRC.  After the presentation I asked myself: ‘What is the value of this project?‘.

For you who don’t know what Project VRC is:

“Project Virtual Reality Check (VRC) is a joint venture of Log•in Consultants and PQR, who have researched the optimal configuration for the different available hypervisors (hardware virtualization layers). The project arises from the growing demand for a founded advice on how to virtualise Terminal Server and Virtual Desktop (VDI) workloads. Through a number of researches, Log•in Consultants and PQR show you the scaling possibilities for Terminal Server environments as well as Virtual Desktops.”

Don’t get me wrong: What they did was a very good initiative, it showed the performance differences between different hypervisors. Although the results were not that surprising it was good to see the validation numbers of the things we already knew.

I also think that the guys who did the project where totally surprised by the attention vendors and customers gave to the project. It was an outstanding (marketing) tool to show the value of virtualization and especially XenApp on a hypervisor. Because of this attention the whole project got out of hand. Although this was not the goal of the project, vendors and customers used it as a reference guide for vitalizing XenApp. That’s the point where I started to wonder what the real value of the project VRC was.


Hyper-V R2 vs vSphere: A feature comparison

At the end of May of this year we wrote a article concerning Hypervisor comparisons and we got a lot of positive feedback on it. The downside to that is that people want an update as soon as one of the companies launches a new version of its product, and who can blame them. However the issue is that this takes a lot of research and because of that, a lot of time. And because two of us are ill and in bed wearing a sombrero ;-) and the other two are extremely busy, we simply don’t have that time right now.

However, Scott Lowe has written an excellent article on the feature comparison between VMware vSphere 4 and Microsoft’s Hyper-V R2 which is a must read for everybody who’s advising customers on hypervisors.

It’s not as extensive as the Enterprise hypervisor comparison we did earlier but it gives you a good image how both products relate to each other. To extend the picture I added a list of supported operating systems.


Project VRC: Clock drift and test results

VRCProject Virtual Reality Check finally posted a new document about previous results and possible clock drift when using the “Login Virtual Session Indexer (VSI)”.  Previous test setups and results didn’t take into account how different hypervisors handle passing time.

In my opinion this is a serious setback to Project VRC which is considered an institute in the virtualization world. People will start questioning the results when no new tests will be performed.

Below is a description from the Project VRC website explaining the new whitepaper they published on September 14th 2009. This is a must read for people that already did some testing as well as new tests. In short: ‘Because of Windows clock behavior in virtual machines the results were affected and some hypervisors may come out better than they really are.

This whitepaper is a review and reflection on previous Project VRC publications, the benchmark: “Login Virtual Session Indexer (VSI)” and Windows clock behavior within virtual machines.  This discussion is fueled by the fact that results from the individual Project VRC whitepapers are set side-by-side to compare hypervisors. Project VRC has been in discussion with both vendors and community, and performed additional research in this context. Before Project VRC can publish new results, it is important to address any questions, review the impact of this discussion and improve VSI where possible.

You can download it at

The major conclusions in this Whitepaper are: