Burton Group says Microsoft Hyper-V R2 immature compared to VMware, Xen

Burton Group has compared VMware's vSphere, XenServer 5.5 and Hyper-V R2 and found Microsoft's offering lacks key features.

SAN FRANCISCO -- When Microsoft releases Hyper-V R2 in October, it will have live migration and better management, but it still won't make the grade for production environments, according to a new research report.

Burton Group analysts shared the results of a new 64-page report, "Virtualization Hypervisors Technologies & Standards, with a packed room of VMworld 2009 attendees on Tuesday comparing VMware's vSphere 4.0, Citrix XenServer 5.5 and Hyper-V R2.

The hypervisor selection criteria included configuration granularity, performance, scalability and integration with an organization's management ecosystem. Within those general categories are features such as high availability, live migration, memory management, management, licensing and support.

vSphere 4.0 and XenServer 5.5 both met 100% of the "required" evaluation criteria, but Hyper-V R2 meets less than 90%. So, Burton Group recommended both VMware and Citrix for production environments. But not Hyper-V.

What Hyper-V R2 lacks
Hyper-V R2 is missing three out of 27 required features, including high availability with assignable virtual machine (VM) restart priority, the computer requirement of at least two virtual CPUs per guest operating system, and in the management category, it had a lack of fault tolerance.

VMware Chief Technology Officer Stephen Herrod indirectly knocked Microsoft's upcoming live migration feature in his keynote by pointing out how mature VMware's live migration feature is. He also touted its storage and network live migration features, which Hyper-V won't offer. "VMotion is a mature technology," Herrod said. "You can depend on it as an absolute building block."

Obviously, Herrod was preaching to the choir at VMworld 2009 -- the show is VMware's annual technology show-and-tell and marketing confab. Competitors such as Microsoft and Citrix were allowed to attend, but their activities were strictly limited. Many attendees said they aren't interested in Hyper-V, citing concerns about its maturity.

Four engineers from the Canadian Army said they have no interest in Hyper-V despite its inclusion with Windows Server 2008 for that very reason. "It doesn't have the features and capabilities that VMware has. It's just not there yet," said one of the IT engineers, who wished to remain anonymous.

Other users at the show said they will give Hyper-V a try because it is free with Windows Server 2008, and Microsoft's small booth on the show floor was bustling with attendees curious about Hyper-V.

Some shops, such as electronics provider Crutchfield, defected from VMware to Hyper-V to reduce costs.

By migrating from VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3) to Hyper-V last year, Crutchfield cut costs by over $US40,000 and got all of the features it really needed, said Roger Johnson, enterprise systems group team leader at the company.

Johnson said Microsoft's Quick Migration has worked well enough with less than a minute of downtime, and free live migration is around the corner. He said Hyper-V failover clustering offers the level of high availability Crutchfield needs as well, so the features Burton Group says Hyper-V lacks haven't affected him.

Johnson seemed disappointed that Hyper-V R2 won't include storage and networking live migration, but he isn't willing to pay the VMware premium for those capabilities. "We reduced costs by one-sixth switching to Hyper-V, and for the most part, we have everything we need and with good performance," he said.

Many virtualization users are OK with dishing out the extra dough for capabilities that aren't included in Hyper-V, however.

The next version of Hyper-V, due out in October, lacks 15 out of 42 "preferred features," including simultaneous live migrations, which both VMware and Citrix products support, said Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf.

Another "preferred feature" Hyper-V R2 lacks, according to the Burton Group, is memory overcommit, which XenServer 5.5 doesn't support either.

"Their customers want memory overcommit, and they know it. Without it, you don't get very good VM density," Wolf said.

But David Greschler, Microsoft's director of virtualization and management marketing, said Hyper-V R2 doesn't include that capability because "customers don't want to overcommit their resources" -- an assessment with which Hyper-V user Johnson concurred.

In the area of security, Hyper-V R2 won't have config file integrity, VM secure live migrate, or security application programming interfaces, and in the area of management, it lacks logical resource pooling and hot-add capabilities, Wolf said. Microsoft does not support Open Virtualization Format standards for interoperability, he noted.

Although Burton Group doesn't yet recommend Hyper-V R2 for production, Wolf said users should make virtualization choices based on what they need in their environments.

Burton Group's full Hyper-V R2 scorecard will be published later this month.

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