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Virtualisation Woes!

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  • Virtualisation Woes!

    So here's the thing, I have choices!

    There are, IMO, at least 3 virtual systems (and I'm talking hyper-visors) worth considering:

    These are ESXi, Xen and the new MS one. All are baremetal (or can be) i.e. the install includes hosting OS as well as the virtualisation software. The MS baremetal hypervisor is essentially a hypervisor loaded on top of a restricted version of server core but that's OK ... it works the same and I suppose they all are really.

    ESXi is the most mature and in many ways the best but lacks one thing I wanted, the ability to template i.e. convert a pre-built machine to a template and deploy a new system from it. XEN has the ability to create templates and deploy from them but configuring the ISO repository is a pain in the a*** (if I could do it all I wouldn't mind, it only needs to be done once, but I haven't figured how yet)! The MS hypervisor is the new boy on the block ... I do not know if it can deploy virtual machines from templates but I do know it has poor legacy OS and Linux support.

    Nevertheless the MS solution is appealing because it opens the door to something I had rejected before, the idea of installing the hypervisor on top of a full copy of server 2008. A physical server offers the specific advantage of maintaining a console operable server on the network (none of the baremetal hypervisors can do much at the console).

    Yes I am an MS boy but I am also VMWare certified and the new ESXi is very like ESX in operation ... but I am edging towards MS because the Linux support will come in time, they do support SuSE Enterprise so I'm guessing OpenSuSE would probably run OK and migrating my domain would be an awful lot easier since I know how to migrate DC's in a single DC domain.

    Intriguing huh?

    J C Rocks (An Aspiring Author's Journey)
    The Abyssal Void War: Stars, Hide Your Fires

  • #2
    Re: Virtualisation Woes!

    I'm for the most part a virtualization neophyte. I'm currently running ESX 3i and XenServer 5, mostly in a non-production environment. I don't spend a lot of time with either of them but I'll give you my impression of each:

    1. ESX - Seems to be the most intuitive. It lacks support for some essential items (AFAIK) like SNMP, which is important to me for monitoring at the hardware level (without having to pay for additional tools, etc.). Also the inability to backup the host machine without shelling out money for VCB, etc. is a drawback, but I shouldn't expect a complete enterprise ready solution for free. The template issue is a bit of a stickler but I get around it by creating a sysprepped VM and then exporting it to an OVF file. I've also converted VMware Server images using the OVF tool and then imported them to ESX.

    2. XenServer has templates but doesn't seem to have the same level of built-in management that ESX has. It also doesn't seem as intuitive as ESX. As for the ISO library, you mentioned not wanting to use a network share for this purpose but that's the way I do it and it's not that big of a deal to me.

    3. I haven't taken a look at Microsoft's offerings yet as I could not get their bare metal hyper-visor to install on my server, even though the hardware supports virtualization. I'm not interested enough to look into what it would take to get it installed.