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Hyper-V, We've got a Problem (Actually Three)

In the course of my recent discussion with Tom Bittman, a VP and distinguished analyst with Gartner, I asked him to describe the current state of Hyper-V. He started out by lauding Microsoft for including the hypervisor in Windows Server 2008 R2 (better late than never, in my opinion), and noting that Microsoft will benefit from a certain amount of new business that will automatically default to them.

That was pretty much the end of the good news, as Bittman went on to discuss a couple of pretty significant problems obstructing the future of Hyper-V. The first one is faced not only by Microsoft, but also Citrix, Red Hat and all the other aspiring virtualization platform vendors: How do you make inroads into VMware's rock-solid user base?

When it comes to large enterprise customers, he said there is very little hope because the "vast majority" of them have very little interest in switching. "Even small businesses that we survey who have already started with VMware have little to no interest in switching," Bittman commented.

That is problem one, and the smaller of the two. Problem two is a bigger, architectural problem that he was told about by R2 beta users. As he explains it, in a Hyper-V environment, every physical host has a copy of Windows that is used as the parent OS. It manages the I/O drivers and is home to any management agents that are installed.

"If I want to use PowerShell, I'm also using the parent OS for that," he declares, "so what you end up with is one big, fat, single point of failure."

And that's not the end of it. Enter problem three: Every time it's necessary to patch the parent OS, it is also necessary to take down all the VMs.

"In a small environment, if I've got 100 virtual machines running on 10 or 20 servers, it's not a big deal. But in an environment with thousands of VMs -- and I've got clients who are pushing 10,000 virtual machines -- having to take down those hosts to patch the OS is not an option."

Which is sweet music to VMware's ears.

Question: Did Microsoft commit a major faux pas in the design of Hyper-V? Comment here or e-mail me.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 11/10/2009 at 12:48 PM


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