Everyday Virtualization

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How Well Does Microsoft Manage VMware?

One of the more hot-shot features of the Microsoft offering for the very competitive virtualization landscape is the ability to manage ESX hosts with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). This was one of those "sounds great to switch" features, until someone actually starts enumerating the pitfalls for administrators like me who are at least casually interested in the concept.

Let me tell you about my newest addiction. On my Twitter feed, I have been following many comments about managing ESX with SCVMM. Eric Gray's VCritical blog post breaks it down quite simply for us. I like Eric's in-your-face, give-me-the-facts approach to the issues facing virtualization. Eric is a VMware employee, but he brings up some good facts about SCVMM.

Many administrators -- including myself -- would assume that if you can manage ESX with SCVMM, all functionality that VMware administrators are accustomed to is available. Not so in this case. Take one example: you can't use shared .ISO images for OS installations or boot disk operations. This can be an incredible storage waste, especially during a rollout.

Another issue: If you manage ESX with SCVMM, vCenter server is still required. That's probably a cost you were not expecting.

This last example, however, takes the cake: ESX-based VM templates can be moved from the VMFS volume to a Windows file system, but can't be deployed on a Hyper-V host. The template files have to be then copied back to the ESX host where they started -- definitely not an optimization.

After reading through comments from Eric and others, it's becoming clear that managing ESX with SCVMM is not a good idea. What do you think? Have you tried it? What have your experiences been like? Tell me why or share your comments here.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 04/16/2009 at 12:47 PM


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