SearchSystemsChannel.com's Pat Ouellette: How does Microsoft Hyper-V R2 and Hyper-V tools compare in the current server virtualization market to VMware's vSphere and Citrix's XenServer?
Greg Shields: I believe, and this is my personal opinion, that IT professionals need to separate in their minds what we consider the hypervisor itself, the part that does the virtualizing, from the tools we use to manage that hypervisor. What's particularly interesting today is that you don't necessarily need to buy those two pieces from the same company, and in fact, you can build some very compelling architectures by not [buying from the same company].
The capabilities of hypervisors today, while not exactly the same, are really coming close to being functionally equivalent. Now, as far as the tools that we use to manage the hypervisor, there are some significant differences between the different products out there. We are seeing a sea change in the industry. People are finally separating the hypervisor from the tools that are used to manage it.
VMware's tools are very mature when it comes to management. Citrix's desktop deployment tools are exceptionally well-designed. Some of Microsoft's Hyper-V tools still have some idiosyncrasies to their use. But from the hypervisor standpoint, with any of those three, you can power on virtual machines, you can [migrate them with] Live Migration and you can do all the things you really need to do. Solutions providers should really spend some time focusing on what things they need to do to manage those hypervisors and that will help them make a determination.
With that being said, don't forget that many of the vendors today, including third-party vendors, are developing tools that work with more than one hypervisor. So you may find that the correct answer for your customer is to purchase one hypervisor and then purchase a completely different tool to manage that hypervisor. That is in no way a bad architecture today.
About the expert
Greg Shields is an independent author, instructor, Microsoft MVP and IT consultant based in Denver. He is a co-founder of Concentrated Technology and has nearly 15 years of experience in IT architecture and enterprise administration. Shields specializes in Microsoft administration, systems management and monitoring, and virtualization. He is the author of several books, including Windows Server 2008: What's New/What's Changed, available from Sapien Press.
This was first published in April 2010