TechEd: Comparing Microsoft and VMware Private Clouds (MDC-B352)

This was Part 2 of a two part series on comparing VMware and Microsoft virtualization/Cloud offerings. Part 1 was focused on the hypervisor and how Hyper-V and ESXi compare. I had a schedule conflict with part 1, so I didn’t attend it. This is part 2, focusing on the private cloud offerings. I thought Microsoft did a decent job in the 75 minutes provided. VMware has a leg up in areas, while other areas Microsoft has a leg up or a longer track record (such as Operations and Configuration manager).

A lot of differences in both products were not discussed, and would take a lot more time than 75 minutes. But it’s clear with Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2 that they are making rapid and big strides in the private cloud and virtualization arena. Now that VMware and Microsoft appear to be on a yearly release cadence, I see the “Cloud OS” battle really heating up. MS has a lot of ground to make up, and they clearly knew it.

Private Cloud Technologies

Speaker acknowledges this is not a perfect comparison, as some products from each vendors package up features differently. For example, vCloud Director does a lot more than just self-service, but MS VMM has vCloud directly-like functionality not found in vCenter. So you can’t exactly line up products and say they are the same. But combine the entire stack from each vendor to really see how they shape up instead of doing per-product comparisons.

  • Hypervisor: Microsoft – Hyper-V; VMware – vSphere Hypervisor
  • VM Management – Microsoft – VMM; VMware – vCenter Server
  • Self-Service – Microsoft – App Controller; VMware – vCloud Director.
  • Monitoring – Microsoft – Operations Manager; VMware – vCenter Operations Management Suite
  • Protection – Microsoft – Data Protection Manager; VMware – vSphere Data Protection
  • Service Management – Microsoft – Service Manager ; VMware – vCloud Automation Center
  • Automation – Microsoft – Orchestrator; VMware – vCenter Orchestrator

Private Cloud Software Licensing

For both suites both vendors license the products by the socket basis. You can buy some VMware products a la carte, and some lesser known products aren’t included in the vCloud Suite. So depending on what features you need, you may need a different set up products.

  • Microsoft – System Center 2012 SP1 (per socket) & Hyper-V
  • VMware – vCloud Suite & vCenter

Key Focus Area for this Session

  • Granular App & Service Deployment
  • Deeper insight and remediation
  • Protection for key apps andworkloads
  • Hybrid Infrastructure
  • Costs

Granular App & Service Deployment

  • On VMware you use templates to deploy standardized templates. Templates are simple, but static.
  • In VMM you also have a dedicated Library to VM templates (like VMware) and service templates
  • In VMM you can have lots of templates all pointing to the same VHDX image (templates can have different features/etc.). Or small, medium, large, etc. templates all pointing to the same OS image.
  • In VMM you can add roles/features to the guest VM template and capture them in the template
  • You can have separate guest profile, and can marry up them with a hardware profile and a VDHX image without using any extra disk space
  • In VMM you can add applications, such as SQL, and easily create a template
  • VMM can directly configure App-V server packages and inject them into the VM template
  • VMM 2012 has a concept of service templates. Service template allows you to build and model multi-tier services. Ability to configure scale out rules, for example. Drag and drop VM templates onto a canvas and you can customize the VM properties.
  • Anything you can do in VMM you can do in PowerShell
  • VMM is more about delivering services to the business unit, not just deploying individual VMs
  • “Create Cloud” button in VMM. Defines resources, networks, load balancers, VIP templates, Port classifications (NIC), Storage, library, define capacity quotas (vCPUs, memory, storage, VMs, etc.). Ability to select hypervisor (Hyper-V, VMware, XenServer).

Service Manager

  • IT self-service management portal, built on SharePoint (also a full helpdesk ticketing system)
  • ITaaS offering
  • Plugs into VMM, Orchestrator
  • BI is built into service manager for deep reporting
  • Download “Cloud Service Process Pack” which pre-configures VMM, Service Manager and Orchestrator for a self-service VM portal

Orchestrator

  • Custom automation with minimal scripting needed
  • MS Orchestrator has a lot of plug-ins for third party products and hardware (integration packs)

Operations Manager

  • Extensible with MS and third-party management packs. Veeam MP can do deep monitoring of VMware environments.
  • Veeam MP is not free, so if you want to monitor VMware with SCOM you will have to license the excellent MP
  • OpsMgr can also monitor network infrastructure (switch CPU usage, memory, port-level stats, etc.)
  • Maintains the relationship between VMs and physical hardware such as switch ports, etc.
  • Server-side, client-side and synthetic transactions for application monitoring
  • Global Service Monitor (GSS) – MS Azure based global services that will test your private cloud app

Visual Studio Integration

  • VMM Library is accessible from Visual Studio
  • Team Foundation Server can use the “Test & Lab Manager” which will spin out VMs for automated dev testing via VMM

System Center Advisor

  • Provides configuration guidance around specific workloads (SQL, etc.) for troubleshooting. Free from MS.

Data Protection Manager

  • Supports Windows server, SQL server, SharePoint, Exchange, Dynamics
  • Up to every 15 minute differential backups
  • DPM can backup to Azure and tape
  • Changed block tracking for VM backups
  • Cluster aware – integrates with CSV
  • Item-level restore
  • DPM has no inline dedupe, but VMware data protection does

Heterogeneous Environments

  • VMM can connect to and provide basic management of vCenter
  • Can use VMM service templates on VMware hosts
  • Many integration and management packs for third party software and hardware (HP, NetApp, Cisco, etc.)

Hybrid Infrastructure

  • Private cloud (VMM can manage XenServer, vSphere, Hyper-V)
  • System Center can link to Service Provider and Azure
  • Single Sign on with AD (Azure)
  • Integrated with DEV (Team Foundation)

Cost Scenario

Cost scenarios can be extremely tricky and misleading. Plus large enterprises will likely get big discounts from both VMware and Microsoft. So take the numbers below with a grain of salt. Not in the cost calculation is the cost of the guest operating systems, since it was assumed both used the same OSes so the cost was a wash. The costs were only for the hypervisor and cloud stack.

The speaker didn’t mention the Microsoft ECI license (enrollment for core infrastructure). This combines the operating system and system center stack licenses into a single SKU, licensed by the socket. The datacenter edition of ECI allows unlimited VM deployment and management using all cloud features. Even if you are a 100% VMware shop for the hypervisor,  you may still have the ECI license if you use system center components (such as SCCM or SCOM). So you may already be fully licensed from the MS perspective and incur no additional software costs for the MS cloud stack.

  • Example: 500 VM Private cloud; 15:1 VM to host ratio; 34 hosts, 2 sockets with 16 cores; Windows Server licensing additional; comprehensive management; 68 licenses of Windows server datacenter
  • 68 CPUs Hyper-V: $0; 68 CPUs of System Center $122K
  • 68 CPUs vCloud Enterprise Suite $781K, vCenter $5K
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