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Time To Jump on the Hyper-V Bandwagon?

It seems Hyper-V is getting more respect every day. Five years after Microsoft entered the hypervisor market to challenge the standard bearer VMware, a growing number of holdouts are now finding Hyper-V has become a viable alternative.

My friend and longtime colleague David Strom last year made the case that Hyper-V has come of age, arguing more and more organizations are using it. He said Hyper-V has become more attractive to IT pros and partners alike, thanks to better management (System Center 2012) and development tools and integration with Windows 8. That argument came last August, a month before Microsoft started shipping Windows Server 2012, which of course included the third iteration of the hypervisor, known as Hyper-V 3.0.

While many argued Hyper-V wasn't a viable alternative to VMware's ESX, the 3.0 release of Hyper-V upped the ante for Microsoft's hypervisor with features such as concurrent live migration, dynamic memory, the Hyper-V Replica, major improvements to storage, continuous availability with clusters that can support 64 nodes and 4,000 virtual machines up from just 16 nodes. Hyper-V also offers major network virtualization improvements.

And Hyper-V is set to get better with this year's release of Windows Server 2012, which as Redmond magazine online news editor Kurt Mackie pointed out last week will gain UEFI security support, SCSI Boot, automatic activation of VMs, VM copy and paste, Live Migration improvements, Shared VHDX, Linux guest support and Hyper-V Replica improvements. In a separate report, he outlined how the improved Windows Server and Hyper-V releases will let IT pros more easily manage their Linux and Unix environments.

In recent months, it seems enthusiasm for Hyper-V has increased. I was at a conference last week when Bruce Otte, director of IBM's SmartCloud platform and workload, pointed to the growth of Hyper-V. Indeed even The Wall Street Journal recently pointed to the growth of Hyper-V, where it noted that according to IDC, the share of servers running Hyper-V has jumped to 27 percent from 20 percent in 2008, while VMware has dropped to 56.8 percent from 65.4 percent in 2008. Citrix and Red Hat have smaller shares with their respective hypervisors.

According to Redmond magazine's 2013 Readership Survey, 61 percent of 1,153 respondents said they use VMware for virtualization, while 44 percent said they use Microsoft (naturally multiple answers were permitted here). Citrix also came in strong with 29 percent, while 12 percent chose Oracle and 8 percent Red Hat.

In a brief conversation with IBM's Otte after his presentation last week, he said since the release of Hyper-V 3.0, a growing number of customers are choosing it for new infrastructure. "Hyper-V has a greater amount of flexibility and is a little more stable," Otte said. "The other thing I attribute it to, is that Microsoft provided a virtualized license participation program that allows you to lower your license fees if you use their Hyper-V and monitoring and management stack. It's almost free."

As a result of the long-awaited improvements to Hyper-V, the partner ecosystem is expanding. A growing number of infrastructure vendors that have waited on the sidelines are now finding Hyper-V is ready for prime time. At Microsoft's TechEd conference two weeks ago in New Orleans, a number of suppliers of infrastructure software and hardware announced support for Hyper-V. Among them were A10 Networks, ExtraHop, F5 and Riverbed.

Riverbed launched its new Stingray Traffic Manager 9.2, a load balancer that can run as a software virtual appliance for the latest Hyper-V release. Venugopal Pai, Riverbed's VP of global alliances hinted a full-fledged appliance would follow. Riverbed also launched a version of its Steelhead WAN optimization appliances for Hyper-V. Asked why it's taken Riverbed five years to support Hyper-V, Pai said that until the release of 3.0, the company didn't see it widely deployed for functions such as network connectivity and disaster recovery.

"With the adoption of Windows Server 2012 becoming stronger, Hyper-V becomes a real choice," Pai said. "We're seeing more and more of our enterprise customers wanting to get that choice from us as well."

F5 also made a big splash at TechEd about its support for Hyper-V, claiming it will be the first vendor to add support for environments with Network Virtualization using Generic Routing Encapsulation (NVGRE). Its BigIP gateways will support NVGRE early next year, making it possible to extend Windows Server networks to Windows Azure and other environments using network virtualization and software defined networking, said Jeff Bellamy, F5's global director of business development focused on the company's partnership with Microsoft.

A10 Networks, which launched its 64-bit AX application delivery controller, added Hyper-V support for the first time. Until now, A10's load balancers were designed to work only with VMware hypervisors in its load balancers. And ExtraHop launched an application performance management offering that runs as a Hyper-V virtual appliance, utilizing the new Hyper-V Virtual Switch capability.

ExtraHop Director of Marketing Eric Giesa said that ExtraHop's solution will let customers achieve cross-tier operational visibility of a Hyper-V implementation, allowing IT pros to correlate metrics across the application, database, network and storage tiers. It will also let administrators monitor private cloud and Windows Azure-based public cloud environments.

With the latest and forthcoming improvements to Microsoft's Hyper-V and now that its gaining support from third-party infrastructure providers, do you see it taking on a larger piece of the virtualization pie in your organization? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 06/19/2013 at 1:15 PM


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