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Who cares about the hypervisor? part 1

7:24 am in Cloud, Hypervisor by mikeresseler

I have been following the announcements at VMworld San Francisco this week to find out what is coming to VMware 5.5. Those who know me a bit may wonder why I did that as I am normally very Hyper-V focused. I have (in my opinion at least) a very good reason for that; The more we advance in the virtualization and cloud world, the more I’m getting convinced that the hypervisor has become a commodity. A couple of months ago I had a (virtual) bar-type conversation with Greg Shields about this and it is becoming more and more true every minute. Before I start to explain why I feel like that, allow me to take a minute why I don’t like hypervisor comparisons…

I don’t like hypervisor comparisons on blogs, whitepapers, independent researches (if you can call these independent…) and more because they are always biased. It’s that simple. If I would need to create a comparison post or whitepaper, I’m pretty sure that by the end of the day Microsoft Hyper-V would be the winner of the day because I am biased for Hyper-V. Is it because I believe it is the best hypervisor? No, it is because I know that hypervisor best. Those who write those posts try to compare different features with each other but in the end they have a preference and depending on what they see as necessary/optional/nice-to-have the answer to the best hypervisor question will be different. It gets even worse when we try to compare more hypervisors.

With that said, here are my observations from the last month. (Please note I’m looking at VMware and Hyper-V here… I can’t judge about the other hypervisors as I have not enough knowledge about them…). Both Hyper-V and VMware can be easily placed next to each other. They both have an impressive set of possibilities and if VMware says they have A then Hyper-V probably has it also but it is called B. In recent past times it always has been Hyper-V that needed to catch up with VMware but recently I just see 2 hypervisors with a lot of capabilities that are pretty much equal. The time that one fan-base can laugh at the other for missing X is practically over (it will always remain since they will never be fully equal but hey… follow me here for a second.)

A simple example: Microsoft Hyper-V and its VHDX format supports 64TB of disk space. Announced with Hyper-V 3 (or Windows Server 2012) which meant that the Microsoft guys could start shooting at the VMware guys because of this. At VMworld San Francisco they announced 64 TB support for VMDK also (technically correct it is 62 TB but hey…). But do we really care? When I need to chose for a hypervisor in my environment, is this one of my requirements? The possibility to have one (1!) virtual disk that is 60+ TB large. Or what about the fact that somebody supports x number of logical CPU’s and x amount of memory… (PS: for the Microsoft guys, I could have easily taken an example that turned around the example Winking smile)

Whenever I talk to somebody about what hypervisor he or she needs, I ask them the same simple question. What are your requirements? 9 out of 10 they have not a single clue and they tell something like performance and stability and then they are lost. So instead of focusing on what product has more features over the other ask yourself the following questions:

  • What features do I need in my environment?
  • What will the cost be of training the administrators in the technology
  • What kind of support do I want (and how much do I want to pay for it)
  • What’s the amount of VMs I want to run on a single host (density)
  • Do I have different locations?
  • (And many more questions that need to be asked upfront…)

Once you have the answers to those questions, you can start looking for the solution that BEST fits your needs. And not mine or any other out there that has a preference for one of the hypervisors.

All right, you made it this far… now it is time to come to my point. While I don’t care about the hypervisor anymore (as long as it fits your specific needs I’m happy) it now comes down to the next part in the chain… Automation, management, monitoring, backup, security… Setting up an environment is one thing. Keeping that environment running, healthy, protected is much more work and cost a lot more than the initial cost of the project.

I strongly believe that you need to ask yourself those questions during the initial phase of the project. What are we going to do when we are live? How will our patch management look? How am I going to see and foresee issues without staring at a monitor 24/7. What in case of disaster? How am I going to protect my environment against security risks?

In the follow-up post I’m going to discuss an integrated approach for not only your virtual environment but for your entire environment as a whole. And yes, I’m biased again for a certain suite of management tools but even if you don’t like those, you might want to read the follow-up post to catch my vision about management.

TechEd NA and TechEd Madrid: What to see

8:22 am in TechED by mikeresseler

Introduction

It has been a great week being at TechEd NA in New Orleans. I had to be there to deliver 2 presentations (see later) but I was of course very anxious to learn about all the new stuff that is coming with System Center 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2. Yes, for those who were living at another planet last week, the new release will be named R2 which is a difference with the name of the release of the Windows 8.1 release. And there was a lot to learn and explore this week for sure!

Below you find an overview of all the different sessions you much watch when you didn’t had the change to visit TechEd NA.  However, if you are going to go to TechED Madrid, then don’t watch the sessions but have a look at this list and use it to plan your agenda.

Let’s start with the first session of the event (pre-conference not included).

The Keynote

Brad Anderson (@inTheCloudMSFT) delivered the keynote and it can be watched here:

http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/Key01#fbid=gadmougCguJ

Besides driving with a nice car on stage and a very funny bond alike start movie the keynote showed us quite some stuff that needed to be checked out.  My attention was drawn and I needed to check some stuff out.  Unfortunately, as it is always at a conference, it is quite impossible to see all the sessions that you want to explore so I will have to spent some time on the TechEd NA Channel 9 site to see more presentations.  Luckily I am one of those that will go to TechEd Europe in Madrid also so that will give me the possibility to see some more sessions :-)

Let’s start with the list of sessions about Windows Server 2012 R2

Windows Server 2012 R2

Start off with What’s new in Windows Server 2012 R2 to get general information. This session will give you a quick overview of all the interesting new improvements and then you can select deep-dives on the different topics where you want to learn more from.

Some of the sessions that I have seen or that are still on my wish list:

Windows Server Work Folders overview – my corporate data on all my devices: As a road warrior and home worker I have multiple (read LOTs) of different devices that I use to do my work.  Because I never visit the corporate office I’m not even connected to the domain. Work Folder capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 will give me the capabilities of having my files on all of my devices.  And IT will still be sure that it is done securely and has control over those files. This is pretty cool technology and I can’t wait to see this in my environment! (PS: for the deep-dive on this topic: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013/WCA-B332)

Hyper-V – What’s New in Windows Server 2012 R2: This session is worth at least a blog post (probably multiple) on its own. Ben Armstrong (@virtualPCGuy) delivered this session about all the new stuff in Hyper-V. And there is a lot of new and cool stuff coming.  Watch my words and start learning… Virtual Machines Gen2…

What’s new in Window Server 2012 R2 Networking: Many improvements have been made in Windows Server 2012 on the networking level and R2 just goes further. If you work a lot with these capabilities than this is the sessions to get you up-to-date with the enhancements (and then afterwards you can start investigating in-depth more :-))

Continuous Availability: Deploying and Managing Clusters using Windows Server 2012 R2: If you have clusters today then you will probably have clusters in R2. This session show you the updates in R2

System Center

Yep, there was a lot of good content on System Center and many of it was delivered by MVP’s and people that are actually in the field. Here is a list of good sessions:

Mission: IT Operations for a Good Night’ Sleep by Walter Eikenboom (@wwwally). A good session for those who want to take component monitoring to LOB monitoring.

Effective Capacity Planning of Your Infrastructure Resources with Microsoft System Center 2012 – Operations Manager Reporting by Gordon McKenna. A session on capacity planning with Operations Manager, SharePoint and the Datawarehouse

 

PowerShell

Windows PowerShell Unplugged: A session delivered by Jeffrey Snover (@jsnover) and this is a session that you must watch if you are a beginner at PowerShell or even already an advanced user. I love PowerShell and work with it on many occassions and this is just one of these sessions that teaches me how to learn and use PowerShell. I take benefit of this one every day

Advanced Automation Using Windows PowerShell: After seeing previous version you quickly will want to go further with PowerShell. Don’t rush too fast but the moment you feel confident in PowerShell then take this session and take the next step.

Key Metrics and Practices for Monitoring Virtualization Platforms by Raymond Chou (@exotrinity) and Alec King. If you want to know more about the metrics you need to monitor mixed environments than this is the best place to start.

Monitoring and Managing the Network and Storage Infrastructure with Microsoft System Center 2012 – Operations Manager by Maarten Goet (@Maarten_Goet). Yes you can monitor more than servers alone. Find out more here about monitoring your storage and network stack.

Tips and Tricks for Creating Custom Management Packs for Microsoft System Center – Operations Manager by Mickey Gousset (@Mickey_Gousset) is a good session if you want to start creating your own management packs.

And of course: Introduction to System Center 2012 R2

Upgrading your Private Cloud

For those who are totally convinced of the new technologies that are heading our way… Upgrading your Private Cloud with Windows Server 2012 R2 is probably something for you :-)

Last but not least!

I also did some presentations so here are the must-see (:-)) sessions:

Managing Multi-Hypervisor Environments with System Center 2012

Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager and Veeam: Better Together

As you can read, there is a lot of good stuff and I will be digging in to the catalog the next 2 weeks to start scheduling my sessions that I want to see in Madrid.

For more information on TechEd Europe:

But there is more than learning and working alone… At TechEd NA we had the possiblity to buy a Surface PRO and RT for a very sharp price and I took that possibility with 2 hands. Now let’s hope that we get the same opportunity in Madrid. I would watch this space and get your money ready :-)

http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/TechEd and http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/TechEd/Special-Surface-Offer-for-TechEd-Attendees-via-Microsoft-Retail-Store#fbid=OQulHhLXnf6

Have fun

Mike