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What We Can Learn From the Big Boys

On Virtualization.info, Alessandro Perilli has several good posts on how Microsoft and VMware use virtualization internally. The first is a peek into both VMware and Microsoft's use of virtualization and the other is a response to some criticism put forth for Microsoft's adoption strategy. Beyond this, Virtualization Review editor Keith Ward and I had access to some VMware's inner workings in a recent call, which Keith highlights in his blog.

I am an infrastructure guy, and I find this information incredibly interesting. While I am not involved in an environment anywhere near the size and scale of VMware and Microsoft, I do take away some important information. First of all, consolidation ratio is more important to the "real world" than what is manifested in the internal practices of Microsoft and VMware.

According to the posts, Microsoft consolidation ratios are fewer than 23 per host, and average 10.4 server VMs per host. The VMware ratio is 10 server VMs per host. Linked in this material is a Vinternals post where a production Hyper-V environment is only hosting 5.7 server VMs per host.

With a similar host configuration, I am regularly seeing ratios in the 25-35 VMs per host and am very happy with the environment. New environments with Nehalem processors and more RAM may let me see 50-90 server VMs per host. While all VMs are not created equal, a consolidation ratio is a comparable statistic in my opinion when looked at in aggregate.

The next thing that caught my interest in this configuration is that with Microsoft Hyper-V, the reliance on (or avoidance of, in some cases) Microsoft clustering services is still something I shake my head at. I hinted at this recently when I mentioned that VMFS just makes this easy for us. I am just not a fan of using a non-virtualization solution to manage access to the disk that contains the VMs, and in Hyper-V R2 the reliance continues.

The final point that is that there is nothing that VMware and Microsoft are doing that most organizations can't do. Whichever side you choose -- in my case, VMware -- you can do it.

The peek into how the big boys are playing in their own sandbox is amazing. What's your take on it? Send me your thoughs or share your comments below.

Posted by Rick Vanover on 04/30/2009 at 12:47 PM


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