Archive for December, 2007

Happy Holidays Microsoft and VMware…Well, Now That I Think About It? No, Forget it…Coal in Your Stockings!

Know What Virtualization Is, But What Is Next? – Chapter 08

Taking a step back, ignoring the hype, the buzz, and the wow factors, both Microsoft and VMware have stepped into the same stuff on the ground, and it smells quite bad. Why do I say this? Simple, both of these virtualization juggernauts, VMware now, and Microsoft has the potential, have missed what enterprise customers of their respective products need, no demand. In fact, ESX 3i and Hyper-V both are effectively useless for enterprise customers for completely different reasons. Wide acceptance of either solution by enterprise customers is not going to be as fast as it could be nor painless because of colossal screw ups by Microsoft and VMware.

Defining terms for a moment, an enterprise customer, for the sake of discussion is one that has more than 100 virtual servers and more than 1500 virtual instances. However, the issues to be discussed do cause real pain to customers below that level, even if someone only has 10 virtual servers and maybe 100 virtual instances, it is ugly. Virtualization was supposed to, at least in part, make management of virtual instances easier, if you listen to the sale teams, the term easy is used, not easier, which is arguably somewhat more accurate. This is misleading, because management of virtualization is complex, and creates its own set of issues. I have already discussed these issues in the past, so I will not do so now, but the short list is:

  • Pre-provisioning
  • Appropriate charge-back or costing
  • Configuration Management
  • Monitoring and Alerting
  • Trending and Analysis

Anyone familiar with virtualization at a practical level, beyond a simple lab/test environment, will see these pain points as valid, and I am sure many of you will or do have more to add. However, to illustrate why, Microsoft and VMware have both missed the entire enterprise customer view of virtualization, continue reading.

Microsoft has yet to handle the above itemized issues to any realistic degree, although with System Center Virtual Machine Manager, they have taken the first step to virtual host configuration management, monitoring and alerting at a consolidated view or scale. True, Microsoft already has MOM, which does help, but it was not complete, alerting is one thing, configuration is another. VMware has, after more than two (2) years finally acknowledged that VirtualCenter, frankly, is horrible. I would use a stronger word, but we do want this discussion to stay with a G rating. Microsoft Hyper-V does not even come close to what VirtualCenter can do, in reference to VMotion, Storage VMotion, HA and DRS. However, since VirtualCenter is broken, in that it does not scale nor communicate well with its respective ESX hosts, to various extents these great features of VirtualCenter are worthless. No joke, but I know of several entities/organizations that have yet to implement many of the latest VirtualCenter features VirtualCenter is so inconsistent. Never mind that Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager lacks said features.

Now to review ESX 3i, that wow factor, over the top, so cool it is almost science fiction implementation of ESX. Bull. ESX 3i is so weak in alert monitoring and to a lesser degree configuration management that is completely useless to an enterprise customer. Based on VMware history, the fabled Remote CLI will be a disappointment I am sure. VMware knew it had an issue with monitoring and configuration management more than eight (8) months ago in reference to 3i. Hey, VMware, what exactly do you do with customer focus group feedback any way? Why do you think 3i release has been delayed? ESX 3.5 is far superior to 3i right now in reference to alert monitoring and configuration management, for the simple fact that traditional hardware agents are full featured, and the COS CLI is still there. However, in reference to ESX 3i, ask IBM, Dell, and HP? They are still trying to figure out what they can or can not do. All this should have been ironed out before 3i code base was established. Was everyone at VMware so in love with 3i that they forgot about proper management and alert monitoring? Of course they were! How will ESX 3i integrate to Tivoli TEC/TBSM, CA-Unicenter, MOM, or HP OpenView? Many enterprise customers have completely walked away from SNMP, and use native proprietary protocols to communicate with servers via their respective agents. What the heck is ESX 3i going to do to address this? Are we expected to accept that VirtualCenter can trap alert status, route, and report status changes of ESX 3i servers effectively, when VirtualCenter can not even consistently keep connections alive with individual ESX hosts? So much for that warm fuzzy feeling that lets us sleep at night.

It all comes down to two basic points, VMware is ahead of the curve compared to Microsoft, true, but they have laid the biggest dead-on-arrive egg the virtualization industry has ever seen, if and I stress this, VMware does not address the monitoring and alerting issues with 3i. Microsoft, well, I really do not need to say much, Hyper-V is where VMware was with ESX 1.5.2 or about there, which equates to late 2002? So if Microsoft takes three (3) or more years to develop their comparable feature set to where ESX 3.0.x is now? Microsoft knew more than two (2) years ago they must have a feature by feature comparable solution to VMware ESX, but Microsoft sat on its collective back-end, cough, office. Thus, Hyper-V is dead on arrival as well, if the beta is a true reflection of what the release version of Hyper-V will be. If there ever was a time for RedHat, Ironworks, Xen, AIX, Solaris, etc. virtualization could take advantage of the juggernauts laying eggs, now is the time! Hint, Hint!

Microsoft, VMware, enjoy the coal in your stockings, and don’t use it to heat the developer workshop, after all, you are trying to go green right? Although, what has come out of your respective development efforts smells, smells real bad. Remember, I said you stepped in it, didn’t I? To bad Scrooge turned over a new leaf, it may take some one like the old Jacob Marley to get some enterprise class solutions developed. Do I hear the rattle and bang of chains, and money boxes? And is that just collective moans from the respective corporate boards at Microsoft and VMware?

To all that have read this blog this year, I wish you and yours sincere best wishes and joyful holidays! Even to those that have given intense replies or severe feedback. After all, if everyone one agreed with me? Why have the blog at all. Peace to all.

Add comment December 23rd, 2007

Datacenter Trends: Heterogeneous Virtualization Management

An article by (NetworkWorld) Denise Dubie reports:

“The market is going to see the need for a heterogeneous virtualization management platform that we haven’t seen up until this point,” [Forrester analyst] Staten says. “It will cause a significant shake-up in the management space when start-ups pop up, and bigger players that haven’t been doing a very good job will look to acquire them.”

Read the full article here

December 20th, 2007


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