Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hyper-V on Server Core vs. VMware ESXi

With Microsoft having released  Hyper-V (for free) and VMware having done the same, it was always a matter of time before someone did head-to-head tests on the two free Hypervisors. And in fact the ICTFreak blog has done just that. In the post: VMware: Hyper-V on Server Core vs ESXi we have a comparison on how easy it is to install VMware ESXi and Hyper-V. This post also has a couple of videos that show the process.

Before I read the piece, I would have expected the results to favour Redmond. But no – VMware required 1/7th the number  of reboots, significantly fewer keystrokes (85 vs. 684) and mouse clicks (14 vs 30). Installing VMware ESXi required 7 steps taking just over 10 minutes whereas Hyper-V took 37:27 and required 13 steps. The hands down winner was Vmware.

To be fair to Redmond and Hyper-V, part of this gaping difference is due to the weaknesses of Windows 2008 Server Core’s UI than the hypervisor itself. The bare UI offered by Server Core, plus the absence of decent tools such as PowerShell, means that the whole configuration process was a lot harder. As the article says that, with Server Core, you would need to: “key in a long sequence of obscure commands to configure iSCSI initiators and targets, partitions and file systems.” A fairer test might be how long it took on Windows 2008 full install.

Of course, installation is only one part of the puzzle and hopefully you do it just once (per server). The extra half an hour per server to install Hyper-V may not be a huge problem, but it sure doesn’t help in the hearts and minds battle.

This result shows Redmond has a lot of work to do to make the install of Hyper-V better as well as work to do to make Server Core more Admin friendly. Both are, I would hope, work items for the next version of Windows due out in a few of years (if the 4 year between versions story is made, this would be 2011). Maybe some  of this might be done in time for the intermediate release (Server 2008 R2) which should hit the shelves in 2009 (or more likely 2010) based on the 2-year between major and  minor version gap. We’ll see.

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