Windows

Windows platform the predominant virtualization host

In research sponsored by Sage Research and published in its recent Sage/CMB market Pulse newsletter, Windows is the predominant platform for hosting virtual machines.
In research sponsored by Sage Research and published in its recent Sage/CMB market Pulse newsletter, Windows is the predominant platform for hosting virtual machines.

Up to 96% of respondents in the survey say that they run a Windows-based virtualization host. The other operating systems did not fare that badly either.

Excerpt from Information Week:

The runner-up was Linux, with 52% of the respondents using the open source operating system. UNIX was third at 30% and Solaris fourth at 29%. The figures do not add up to 100% because sites in some cases are using multiple brands of operating system in their virtual machines. The Mac OS was used by 12% of respondents and NetWare by 6%.

The report did not specify how many virtual machines were there of each kind, neither is there information about the virtualization software used. As such, it is unclear how much the results could be skewed as a result of popular options, such as the Windows-based version of VMware Server or the Linux-based ESX platform.

Certainly, the 12% using the Mac OS are unlikely to be running server-type applications on it. Instead, they are probably using virtualization as a way to gain access to native Windows applications.

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About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

82 comments
Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Most of the respondents run windows, the bumped into virtualisation through MS. Therefore they use and MS solution. Ignorance is tolerable as long as you choose to rectify it, flaunting it as some sort of virtue is far from acceptable. For those not familiar with the principle, it's the statistic that says you are less likely to have a car crash if you wear odd socks. Virtualisation to me is simply a cost effective way of addressing deficiencies in MS software and PC hardware. A good deal of the need disappears if you use a mainframe and a powerful multi-user OS.

jdclyde
jdclyde

If you do a survey, I bet you will find a MUCH higher percentage of people wearing old socks getting into accidents than people wearing new socks.... by virtue that there are more people wearing old socks.... As you said, it means nothing. Speaking of socks, here is my theory to save the world. If instead of washing, drying, matching and folding your socks so you can re-use them, throw them out and buy a new pair for every day. It will save on water, and processing the water again to get out the detergent. It will save on electricity to wash, dry and the light to sort by. It could save the world! B-)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

plastic bags as well. I gave up on matching, odd socks are beneficial in all situations except when being interviewed by the really observant. Less people get mugged in odd socks, less people die in them. Mind you less people have sex in them. :p

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

hehe.. hm.. maybe we should cut this line of jokes short before it really get's good..

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Very strange, most just position the sheep uphill, so it pushes back. Courtesy of the great Billy Connolly.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

.. couldn't resist.. hopefully everyone else shares my same damaged sense of humour.

jdclyde
jdclyde

wool is a "renewable resource"..... while plastic bags are not. of course, a sheered sheep is just too dang attractive for our Ausi counter-parts to resist..... :0

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

that a landfill full of used socks cannot help but contribute to global warming. All that wool and nylon has to act as insulation! :D Speaking of which, some of VMware's propaganda says some west coast utilities are rewarding companies with large server farms who go virtual. It reduces the amount of electricity used by individual servers, and the juice needed for A/C to cool them.

kroser
kroser

All of those out there who are giving compelling arguments against virtualization, you need to do your homework dudes. These arguments are correct for the state of virtualization 3 years back. Things have changed and in todays world, virtualization = high availability. Do yourselves and whatever organization you work for a huge favor. READ UP A WHOLE LOT MORE. You WILL be surprized.

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

I meant DataCenter Edition. Enterprise = 1 Physical + 4 VM ( Which as I recall, means you can use 1 Enterprise Lic. for 5 VM's on VMware ESX, since you aren't consuming 1 for the host OS) Datacenter (Licensed per Processor) = unlimited VM

faradhi
faradhi

Only 2003 Enterprise Servers have the 4 to one vm offer. Standard does not have the same benefits. I think Datacenter 2008 will offer the unlimited. However I not positive and do not really feel like doing the research again.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

That can be another major cost savings if you're an Microsoft shop. MS has said if you're under an enterprise licensing agreement, one Server license is good for one physical installation of the OS and -four- virtual installations.

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

Once you virtualize, the hardware effectively becomes a resource pool from which you can draw. Servers are treated in a fashion similar to Drives (I think someone called it RAIS, or something similar). For us, we hit break even (ignoring all factors but HW and SW lic.) between year 3 and year 4. There was a fairly significant up-front for VMWare licenses, SAN hardware, etc. Realistically, the cost recovery point was likely earlier than that, as there was definitely a substantial reduction in deployment man-hours for virtualized systems, faster testing with larger datasets (resulting in fewer post delivery issues), and shorter time from test to deploy. With the recent changes to windows licensing (ie unlimited VM's with Enterprise Server Lic.) you have another potential cost reduction factor for MS-centric environments.

faradhi
faradhi

Because the VM host usually has to be more beefy than an individual server running one instance there is not a direct 1 to 1 relationship between the reduction in power consumption and the number of servers virtualized in most cases. There is an additional gain because of reduced cooling needs. However, this will likely not be a direct one to one relationship either. This is because the processor is worked more heavly in Host machines so there is more heat output. I would seem there is a benefit. However, I have yet to see any real research on this subject. Whether or not the benefit is substantial to offset the costs of virtualizing I am not ready to say.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

We buy software from vendors who trot out some ridiculous hardware specs. I know they're overkill, but the vendor won't support the app unless the h/w meets their minimum specs. One won't even provide support if the server is running an another one of their own apps. Oddly, they will support the product if running as a virtual machine on a host physical box that meets the min h/s specs, even if it shares that physical host with other virtual guests. This attitude may change as the use of virtual machines grows, but until then I plan to take advantage of it. So if I've got three identical high end boxes and can consolidate them into one, I'm not sure how I can't be saving power. I can even shadow one to the other for redundancy and still have one less box. I've certainly reduced fan noise if nothing else. When your desk is in the computer room, that's important :-)

jdclyde
jdclyde

arbitrary in that it "has got" to. What is the power consumption of a high end server vs a low end server? This is like the push to change all website backgrounds to black because it would "save electricity". They never will show the numbers though...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Apparently selected power companies believe it will reduce consumption during peak summer periods. Since it makes virtualization look good, VMware didn't hesitate to pass the information along. In the meeting I attended they were quite clear that no all utilities were doing this. But three virtual servers on one physical box has got to use less power than three physical servers. The National Arbor Day Foundation will ship you ten saplings selected for your area for $35 membership dues and you can plant them where you want. www.arborday.org

jdclyde
jdclyde

I doubt VM says what you will save per server, per year, huh? Dell, for $6, will plant a tree for you.... anything for a buck.

Jaqui
Jaqui

no one who requires their systems to be available would ignore that aspect and use virtual machines for anything critical. I don't use them for anything. If I need a different distro for testing purposes, then I just install it onto a system so it is available when needed.

jdclyde
jdclyde

but you have piled the eggs higher than ever. The virtual aspect is an added layer to go wrong with they system. Because I am not using Windows servers, I don't have to worry about the OS for each costing more than the server, so can afford several small servers, isolating all applications on their own server. If one goes down, we only lose one application out of several. It is just the latest fad. Make a new market, push people into it. When it has become saturated, make another new market and start over. This is just like the marketing BS about "By the time you get your PC home, it is obsolete". [i](1 a: no longer in use or no longer useful) [/i] The ONLY thing that makes a system obsolete is when it won't do the work that is needed to be done. That usually happens by throwing the latest bloatware on, just for the sake of upgrading without reason. Just how many features do you really use/need in a word processor?

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"The ONLY thing that makes a system obsolete is when it won't do the work that is needed to be done." One of the other things is when the cost of an annual maintenance contract exceeds the cost of replacing it with new hardware. I guess you can always 'invest' money in spare components that may sit on the shelf. Me, if I'm on vacation I'd much rather someone pick up the phone and call for service than call me back from the race track. If applications running on the old server are actually running as virtual machines, you won't have to waste time reinstalling them on the new one. You can just move the VM to the new server with the apps already loaded, configured, secured, tweaked, and ready to go.

faradhi
faradhi

Virtualization eliminates Hardware dependence. I can restore my server on any other server provided it can run a Virtualization software that can run the VM. Further a lot of Virtualization software will run VMs created by competitors, so you are not even limited to the exact same software either.

schambers
schambers

Eggs in one basket certainly keeps down on the baskets - if you can fit 30 eggs in one basket, that is. You must have long arms and be able to carry 30 baskets down the street with you, each containing one egg: you're bound to drop a basket at some point...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

VMware is encouraging software vendors to develop applications as virtual machines. The approach they're encouraging is for the developer to pick the OS they think is best for their app, develop the app, and package OS and app as a single piece. The customer installs the pre-configured vm and turns to the vendor for all support. You don't have to determine if the problem is in the OS or the app since the vendor will support all problems with their vm. The vendor only has to develop an app for one OS instead of for multiple operating systems / versions / distros / GUIs. They also only have to develop one set of upgrades or patches. They can send the upgraded vm to the customers with instructions on how to transfer the data. Support becomes easier for everyone. They've only got a few vendors on board so far, but this may grow as quickly as vm server installation did in the last several years.

schambers
schambers

Dude, are you serious? What scale are you thinking of? A tipping point is often 10-20 hosts running 100-500 virtual machines. So at the norm we are talking 15 hosts running 250 virtual machines. Have you compared the costs of just the physical stuff (20%) then the operations stuff (80%), then the benefit of the agility (the list is great!)

jdclyde
jdclyde

might still save the egg inside. :D It also helps from a trouble shooting point of view. I never have to worry about which application might be causing a problem, because it is the only application. I am sure there are administrative benefits to virtualization, but they just don't pass the cost/benefit ratio test for me.

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

VMotion allows you to cluster the VMWare Host servers and fails over all VMs' instantly with little to no downtime during the failover.

faradhi
faradhi

to moving VM's while ESX servers are operational. However, if an ESX server were to completely fail, like in a power and ups failure, the VMs will still shut down just like a physical server's power cord was pulled. VMware's HA will ATTEMPT to restart those VMs but the shutdown would have been dirty. Further, attempt was the key word. If the ESX server does not have the resources, it may not start the VM unless the VM was set to start regardless of available resources. So the only way to obtain HA for individual VMs are to mirror the VMs with VMs on another ESX server. So while VMware ESX provide quicker recovery, it does not provide any better HA than mirrored physical servers.

faradhi
faradhi

The cost of High Availability increases as the level of HA necessary increases. Virtualization may or MAY not reduce your costs depending on the level of HA you need. VMware's HA still does not eliminate the requirement to Cluster or mirror servers that require 100% uptime. It does make it easier to restore servers and maintain physical hardware. But as much as I like VMware I will not overstate its benefits.

schambers
schambers

Cost of this high availability? The cost of buying VMware Infrastructure 3 and dropping any old VM onto it to benefit from HA and the availability it delivers versus The cost of mirroring VMs, customizing clusters etc. It's always a cost vs. benefit, right? So show me a solution other than VI3 that addresses such as wide target (any VM) to provide HA that will in most cases exceed your availability targets. For those "must be 100% uptime" (are you sure?) there are other solutions, including having more than one VM on VMware, both benefiting from HA!! :)

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

Running as VM's on 4 Physical Servers with ESX 3. A fairly significant cost savings. Actually, they would fit on 3 physical servers. The 4th server is for failover, in the event of a physical failure. I use VMWare workstation for Testing. I am especialy fond of the snapshot and clone capabilities. I can have a duplicate machine in less than a minute. I can revert from a botched experiment in less then 10 seconds. I just recently did a little work with the team feature. It was nice to be able to build, test and destroy an entire AD + SQL Server + Applications + clients environment in less than a half day.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

VMware's enterprise level hosts can be configured to mirror a hot virtual machine to another physical box across a WAN, and to boot the remote VM automatically if the primary fails. What do you see as the failures for a critical application?

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

MS and their crappy Virtual Server product are years behind the technology that VMWare is employing. And to those that think VMware ESX is Linux, you are all wrong. Yes, it resembles Linux and uses Linux style commands, but the VMKernel is not Linux and is totally proprietary to VMWare.

faradhi
faradhi

While the kernel is proprietary, it is still based in *nix. The console is Linux.

leeroberthill
leeroberthill

I have to disagree with most of the points raised. I am a Microsoft fan but cannot in all honesty ever compare their current virtualisation products against VMWare Enterprise ESX in a HA configuration. Done properly, ESX has NO single point of failure.. Indeed, it has much more resilience than a single server alone. Microsoft's Virtual Server on the other hand should not be used for anything more that testing and development (the same applies to VMWare Workstation). Perhaps the question should be :- What virtualisation product are you using for MISSION CRITICAL servers, where Microsoft would certainly not receive 90% of the market. (not sure if it would receive 1% to be honest!) Hopefully Windows server 2008 will give the MS product some resilience (and scrap the crappy browser front end), but still it will be a long way behind VMWare ESX. (give it a few years though ;-)

Jaqui
Jaqui

should not have support for a GUI at all, that is just bloating the system for ZERO gain. I never install a gui on any of my server boxes, since my 100% open source systems don't need a gui to function as servers. [ note, I do not have a single MS system at all, it is not needed ] you'll never convince me that someone isn't going to physically pull the power cord when working in a rack, as soon as that happens every vm is down. unless the failover vms are in a completely different rack, you are down.

faradhi
faradhi

No server operates at 100% efficiency. A product like ESX allows you to take that idle time where the hardware costs are wasted and use it for other virtual servers. This in turn allows you to take the same hardware and cluster the vms. My experience has been that I can take the four physical servers in my data center. Virtualize them on to two of the physical servers and then provide fault tolerance on the other two physical servers. Additionally, I do not have to take down my servers which are virtualized to perform hardware maintenance. If I want to add memory, I move the VM, on the fly with vmotion, to another ESX server, shut down the physical box, perform the upgrade, bring up the physical box and move the vm back. My user do not know anything has happened. Further, with virtualization, you remove all hardware dependence. I can restore any installation onto any hardware because it is completely virtualized. The ESX server presents the same hardware to the vm regardless of what physical hardware is installed. So, I do not have to worry if the hardware is supported by a Linux or windows, ESX presents hardware that is. Also I do not have to worry about obtaining identical hardware when recovering from disasters. SO for Disaster Recovery, virtualization gold. -edited so things are speled worser and grammer is more badder and it is less clear.

jgruber
jgruber

Someone is going to pull the power cord on all the servers in both sides of the rack or the PDU. Ever heard of redundant power supplies or redundant PDUs. There are things you can do in the datacenter to even prevent what you just mentioned. Also in your scenario you just lost one of your machines...with VMWare and some common sense you won't lose a single VM. Most datacenters I have been in with ESX hosts are smart enough not to put them all in the same rack.

schambers
schambers

I think you need to research the industry a bit more, Jacqui, and learn a bit more about basic IT not just virtualization. Sorry to be blunt, but what you are saying makes no sense. Single systems are not highly-available unless you cluster and duplicate everything, and even then there is downtime. The higher the availability, the higher the cost - how much is the business paying for your approach to high availability? If you were to analyse the typical organization and create tiered service offerings that balance service against cost, where service is a mix of things such as features and availability, then I think you would find that the vast majority of services have a medium/low cost and therefore a medium/low service level. At the top of the tree is a lower number of higher cost, higher availability systems. Virtualization, on VMware products at least, serves all of those levels and availability is actually increase on VMware with features you probably aren't aware of called High Availability (every virtual machine now benefits from clustering, but they are unaware which reduces complexity and cost) and DRS (which let's you rebalance workloads to perform maintenance with no downtime AND increase utilization). There are many arguments against what you say, Jacqui, and I hope you take my response in the spirit that is intended: go out there and read up, you might be amazed what virtualization can do for you (and is doing for millions of others). Kind regards, Steve

kevin.stafferton
kevin.stafferton

I'm no expert at virtual machines but surely it's only a single point of failure if you run all you VMs on a single server. Is there any reason you can't run a duplicate second host server that you can just switch to if the first falls over? Also, surely one of the big selling points of VMs is that if one dies then the rest still carry on. As I say, I'm no expert so feel free to enlighten me.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If I read correctly months ago; ESX server (if not the other VM offerings) will cluster and allow live migration of servers from one machine to another. In that regard you just setup you cluster to load balance the VM and sync them for redundancy. RAIV?.. redundant array of inexpensive virtualmachines.. bwahahahaha..

Jaqui
Jaqui

is the physical hardware. have two or three critical systems running on vms on one bit of hardware, it fails at all, all the vms are down. have them all physical hardware, one fails one goes down.

faradhi
faradhi

Is that while it is High Avaliablility for the ESX server it is NOT HA for the VM's themselves. For the VM's it is still like pulling the plug and restarting them with all the potential problems that come with it. I only bring it up so that people do not get the wrong idea and think it is like VMotion where the VM's never go down. That said, the speed of the recovery time is still worth it. HOwever, since you are saving in hardware costs, if you have some servers that requires HA then it is far cheaper to provide HA for the VM's with ESX than with physical servers since you require fewer physical servers.

jgruber
jgruber

Ever heard of high availability? At my former job we had hundreds of servers on ESX and hundreds of desktops. The failure of any single virtual host never caused us to lose a single server or machine. If you are using shared storage you can easily restart them from another host. With HA they will automatically VMotion to another host.

jgruber
jgruber

As a developer VMWare or some other flavor of virtualization is perfect for you. You no longer need an additional physical system to install another build onto. If you are never limited by the amount of hardware, space, cooling, or power I guess it might not be for you, but for most environments, virtualization can make a real impact on the bottom line.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

when you want to restest for issues across several different versions and set ups. One you've set up the base versions, it saves a massive amount of heartache. I should point out Jacqui does not do windows development. :D Ever. :)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I've a client who changed there mind on what they wanted a server to do so now I have three seporate VMs; each for one of the variables. There's been a few times I've saved a restore point right after the first boot so I can try some haribrained config then blow it away and start over without bare metal. Being able to test various setups that easily is fantastic.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

With MSDE to SQL 2005 as a back end on systems that many of may not have some .NET framework already. May or may not be patched, for customers who may know where the power button is if I'm lucky. Lots of options out there and a horrible number of gotchas.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

That right there has to be huge for development. Chew the system, hit the button and let the previous good VM image restore. Even as a simple test bed to try the latest flakey fad program or throw more abuste pentesting at.. I love that little restore button.

Jaqui
Jaqui

if I actually paid normal prices for hardware, but since I pay far below normal, it isn't worth using. read my reply to Neon Samurai above, I detail the cost of hardware for me.

ManiacMan
ManiacMan

in today's market where virtualization and VMWare are the latest craze. At my last contract gig for a trading firm, I pushed the idea of virtualizing their trading application servers to replace the hundreds of bulky and aging HP proliant servers in rows of cabinets which they referred to as "silos". What made matters worst and annoyed me the most was that the IT manager was an old school twit and didn't even care to hear about VMWare or even try it out for the benefit of the organization. He was comfortable in what he already knew and was afraid of anything new that could make him look incompetent or not knowledgeable. The guy just didn't care to learn anything new, which as an IT manager is a very poor trait to be showing. Also, the trading applications development team was squeezing us server guys to provision more servers than we could handle on a weekly basis. At best, I was able to give them 2 servers per day, because I also had to rack mount, run patch cables, and establish LAN connectivity. Then I had to join the machines to the domain and run through an extensive post install checklist to get custom software installed and other parameters in order before I could finally hand off the machines into production. Had this all been virtualized through VMWare VI3, it would have taken minutes to give them as many servers as they need instead of a whole day to only provision 2 machines and listen to their bitching and moaning that we're too slow to accommodate them. I'm done with that contract and hope the next gig I have offers me the opportunity to play with VMWare VI3, as I've only started dabbling with it on my HP DL360G4p server at home.

jgruber
jgruber

I saw what you posted and I find it interesting that you would used aging or used hardware for mission critical systems yet scoff at the idea of someone using virtualization technologies. You also failed to address the issues of space, power or cooling.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Between hosting my OS collection, various development builds of similar server configurations, "auditing" targets for testing against, seporating major functions on the same hardware (NAS and groupware in seporate VM), providing Windows without a reboot, system backups and migrations, apeasing my wife by getting rid of "all those computers you don't ever use" that I had previously to host my OS collection and test targets.... and on.. and on.. Granted, I haven't yet put VMWare Server into a client's production environment yet (maybe if the business grows enough to justify ESX or Virtualbox get's really good). At home you may find uses for it though but it's a little like cell phones.. no one needed a cell phone until they had one and then it was suddenly indespensible for them. Now I'd love to have a rack in my closet with a few spare blades to install on at a whim's notice but budgets don't allow for it yet. Virtualization has removed the physical limitations I constantly worked around in the past.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I have people giving me cell phons fairly often, I "forget" to turn them on. ;) what? get rid of the systems scattered around? never!! I get systems constantly, dirt cheap. ]:) [ dirt cheap = < $10.00 for a working p3 system, minus kvm, $12.00 for a working 2.8 GHz p4 with a 160 GB hd and 1 GB ddr ram ] I only have two monitors, two keyboard and 2 mice, but I have kvm switches ]:) all the systems are running 24/7 :D

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

You can run up $700 in shipping charges pretty quickly, although I don't know the distances involved. I have to take a look at one of these; it might be handy for managing our systems in Canada from here (South Carolina), or for out Pittsburgh folks to work on New Jersey systems.

shardeth-15902278
shardeth-15902278

It is pretty pricey, even for the single host solution (~$700). The considered use is dropping one at our small sites, where our IT challenged users need only be able to manage plugging in the network, keyboard, video and mouse cables (and a power cord). In order for us to assist with a bare metal restore or other pre-os support issue. But at that price, we can ship quite a few PC's back and forth, so while cool, probably not cost effective.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I haven't heard of an IP KVM, but it sounds interesting. I haven't needed a new KVM in three years, so I haven't had a reason to look at what's available. All of the equipment connected to my three existing switches is located a short distance to the left, right, or rear of my desk. Cabling from the systems to the switches is not a problem, something I assume is one of the advantages of an IP KVM. I probably won't need one a new one for at least another year, so I'm afraid I'm of even less assistance than usual. Sorry.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I've used StarTech's SV series for years. The SV4's are 4-port, the SV8's are eight. Both are available in PS2, USB, or a combination. Jaqui's right about the cables. Pay the extra for the models that come with cables; it isn't worth the hassle of tracking them down and ordering them separately.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Ideally I'd like something supporting usb keyboard and mouse but I have ps2's kicking around on my "extras" shelf.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I've found startek's kv411 to be solid. 4 station model, spend the extra 10 to get the 411*, it comes with the cables. ps2 keyboard and mouse ports. svga video. but it has never caused problems. even with nothing but open source software. switching systems: [Left Control]+[Left Control]+[system number] or use the button on the switch to scroll through in sequence

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Most notibly, I miss the Netfinity5000 I was given though it needed more than just a new OS to breath life back into it. I had it dual booted for a short while but it never would take an OS after that and replacing hardware bits in it wasn't within budget so "Monolith" was sent on to an even bigger masicist in the family. (that one was either bad ram or a bad cd reader I'm guessing) If I can get my hands on another good kvm, I could get the few hardware boxes I have kicking around back up and running. I've a G4 I want up and running; if only to learn osX from install disk through to internal BSD guts. Oh well.. least my VMs and FOSS free me from prohibitive costs for software licenses and hardware outside of my primary monster of a workstation.

schambers
schambers

Sorry, Jacqui, but you make no sense :(

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