Hardware optimize

Poll: How many virtual Windows machines are you currently supporting?

The TechRepublic Windows Blog member poll question: How many virtual Windows machines are you currently supporting?

This poll was originally published in October 2010. The results have been reset so we can compare the 2010 results to 2011.

Virtualization is an important concept for the IT professional. On TechRepublic, we have devoted blogs to the subject, published many comprehensive posts, and even reviewed servers that specialize in virtual machines. Virtualization saves money, increases flexibility, and will increasingly become the way systems are built in the enterprise.

But I think we should get an idea of how many virtual Windows installations IT professionals are actually supporting as of this date. We can use the measurement taken this month in 2011 to compare with a similar poll we will took in November 2010.

In addition to the poll question, take a moment to share your experience with virtualization. What have you found to be the benefits and drawbacks of virtualization? Do you need better tools? Do you need better hardware? Do you plan to deploy more virtual Windows machines in the near future?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

24 comments
dkyle
dkyle

This might be a bit off topic , have just downloaded the Developer edition of Windows 8 32-bit , and was trying to install it onto a pc running windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, the already installed Virtual pc 2007 has one VM namley win xp . While all works fine , i created a new VHD ( 16 GiB ) but try as i might i cannot install win 8 in a virtual machine , should i look at other options ?

bsnyder
bsnyder

Using VMWare... Virtual servers - very few problems. I've kept my simple tasks virtualized and they've been reliable and consistant. Virtual desktops - more problems. Lots of goofy USB issues on printers and Blackberrys using WYSE terminals. My recommendation: keep it simple. For all of my generic users with no USB printers or syncing handheld devices, they're fine. It's the complex applications, complex configurations, that feel too much like the bleeding front edge of virtualization. I would have been better off virtualizing 75% of my users instead of 95%. That last 20% has cost me more configuration, testing, and fixing time that everything else combined. All of the administrative "wins" of virtualization have been eaten up by the excessive configuration hassles of the complex, final 20%.

davidibaldwin
davidibaldwin

Your first selection should have been 0 followed by 1 to 10...

don
don

Yes, I work at a small company, don't support any VM.

pgit
pgit

I've never come across a need to virtualize a windows system. I rarely virtualize at all, really, and the few times I have it's been Linux, and the majority of that was for testing and/or learning something. Curious as to why you only asked for the number of windows installs in a VM.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Anyone remember the old VM370 days when you had to be meticulous about allocations to the VM (provisioning) or the system became unbearably slow? Seems we've come full-circle with PC's.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Its so easy to run a test, reset the system, run another, etc. Right now I am testing the impact of various office installs, it would take ages to keep re-imaging a Win7 machine. but with Virtualization, I just use either undo disks, or keep copies of the virtual hard drive. And I can run more than 1 at the same time.

jfuller05
jfuller05

We only have two servers, so virtualization isn't needed where I work. I've heard if your shop runs 5+ physical servers, then virtualization would improve your network.

pjboyles
pjboyles

Servers are widely deployed as virtual. Unfortunately these actually cost more than physical where I work due to all the hardware and software requirements around them. Try getting cheap SAN for non-mission critical servers *sigh*. Any VDI solution is DOA because of actual costs. Don't talk to me of soft costs because the bottom line doesn't see them which is where the focus is at. When I can deploy and redeploy a physical solution at less than1/2 the cost of a virtual it becomes laughable. ( Fix the licensing MS. i.e. bring it out from behind all the additional costs al la SA.) Then there's the facts of many WAN linked sites. Not a good VDI environment.

mahtopawan
mahtopawan

In my current Organization, i am supporting more than 1200 VM.

Cheval
Cheval

The biggest problems are getting the right balance on RAM and IO and when the hardware fails you take down a number of VMs. The best parts are the lack of physical servers. It might not seem much, but the lack of noise, cables, racks, mucking around, power use, air cond maintenance, weekend call outs, etc. is just great. It's just more simple and accessible. So much so, that previously we would have loaded up our application servers but now we specialize out to keep things modular with a separation of concerns. This is great when you need to upgrade or take offline.

jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527
jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527

For us, we found the use of raw electricity provided significant savings. We traded in the full desktop for a zero client, specifically the Samsung NC240. It cut the electric bill by more than half for us, which is significant once you get past 100 or so machines.

PalaDolphin
PalaDolphin

I use Sun's VirtualBox to emulate Ubuntu Linux under Windows XP. I don't know what the author is referring to when he overloads the term, "virtual machine". PC Magazine has this definition: http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=Virtual+PC&i=53936,00.asp While comprehensive, it doesn't quite describe which type of virtual machine the author may be talking about. Could someone, possible the author clear up this ambiguity, please? craigalance@gmail.com

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I was thinking of virtual installations of Windows desktops and servers.

clebermag
clebermag

Normaly, the virtualization is necessary because Microsoft Windows (in their most recent versions) can't provide a full compatibility between their old OS versions, and this explain the reason of Virtualisation. For programs that give something like data access or system interface, there is no problem with the virtualization, but virtualization don't cover all necessities like hardware interface and usability of old devices. I think that the question is more than "How many Virtual machines we give support". The question, as I see, is "Why we need virtualise operational systems that brings from the same enterprise?" When virtualization is given to concentrate processing tasks, it seems to be the right solution. But when virtualization is given for compatibility, no. And "Why Microsoft are breaking compatibility with your old programs?" It Seems to be piracy combat, but by the way, the price that we are paying for this is that legal software licenced are forced to become obsolete, the computers is becoming obsolete too and there are nothing that we can do to stop this situation, since linux, for example, isn't too popular as desired to stop this. I Understand that technologies must keep growing and I want to buy a powerfull computer that is capable to play movies, while rendering a gigapixel image and burning a Blue-ray disc, but sinceray, since my computer can be fully multitask, myself no, because I am Human (excepting in rare cases here tasks like backuping files can be done while working or in ohter cases like this) For house uses, normaly a standard PC is suficient. That is the point. And finaly, before making old computers obsolete, they must find a way to correct recycle old computers.

john.ammon
john.ammon

How many people answering admin 20 computers or 20,000. Also VM can be hidden from IT if a user is trying to hide.

2whlgeezer
2whlgeezer

Have had that experience here. Caused problems when many VMs are looking for DHCP.

pjboyles
pjboyles

This poll is too simplistic. How many physical do you have? desktop vs server and OS? What is virtualized? desktops vs servers What is the hardware platform virtualized on? desktop vs server If server, which virtualization platform? Windows Hyper-V, Xen, VMWare, etc This will give a real feel for what is happening. For me as I am on the desktop side exclusively it is: ~50,000 Windows desktops vs ~50 Windows client VPCs on desktops. Reason for virtulization is point solution. Added a full desktop VPC on a kiosk desktop for production line where adding physical hardware was a poor choice ($50,000 setup cost). Works well. For the server team on Wintel it is about 60% virtualized systems (Windows, Unix, Linux) on VMWare. Done where cost and performance made since. In some cases licensing of software doesn't allow virtualization. Now next question is unsupported client VMs (all Windows). Developers and Testors are unsupported. Add another 130 Desktop VMs on various platforms (VPC, VMWare, Parallels) on top of Windows (desktops and servers), Linux (desktops and servers) and OSX. Will it go up on the desktop side? Some, not much. Actual hard cost is the driving factor and soft ROI don't count for much. Note: Most internal development requires physical test equipment as it drives physical hardware.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What have you found to be the benefits and drawbacks of virtualization? Do you need better tools? Do you need better hardware? Do you plan to deploy more virtual Windows machines in the near future?

337
337

Hmmm well people have seen my thoughts prior not a real fan of it then again i haven't used it that much nor at a large scale which probably is the better way to see it in action. Just being an experimenter with a small network it probably doesn't warrant me doing so but my time with virtual pc2007 was pretty pleasant considering. Server2008 don't bellieve the hyper v? edition hmm yet to roadtest that installed it once but never used it :P Looks nice what i have used a little for what it's worth is xenserver on opensuse. Worked ok but wasn't real pleased with the network bridging have one install thats become lan only because network drivers have crashed somehow but i suspect thats the beta version so you get that. I don't know enough to add anything probably of any use to the boffins but on fairly modern pc's i can't really rave about the greatness of virtual :P I love the ones who get on going Oh you don't know enough cos you don't like virtual :P No it's just that some of us know what to expect with virtual enviroments. Like anything Murphy just loves virtual.

dpeterso
dpeterso

We had trouble getting image backups using Tivoli Storage Manager (IBM Back up application) to work properly w/ESX 3.5 are now using ESX 4.x and still no better off. Very poor documentation, both on VMware's side as well as IBMs. ....AntiVirus.... We just started installing AntiVirus software on our servers. We immediately found it's difficult to schedule when to perform system scanning. We don't want to cause the vm's to migrate (to other hosts) due to the excessive cpu utilization. We need an AV solution that is VCenter aware and could manage the load appropriately. I don't know if others are doing this, we just started and it seems to be a problem in need of a solution....(read $ opportunity)

jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527
jeremial-21966916363912016372987921703527

Our environment consists of c. 200 XP SP3 machines in a VMware View infrastructure, and I have felt your pain when it comes to AV. I've done demos with Trend Micro with their new "virtualization aware" anti-virus client, and it works okay - but I wasn't astounded by it. What we ended up doing was going with a dynamic pool - the user logs in, gets what they need to work, and when they log out the virtual machine is destroyed and re-created to a Master Template. At the moment, as we are really only concerned with an infection propagating while the VM is running, we've gone with a mixture of Internet proxying and server-side scanning. It is my hope that someone will make use of the APIs VMware has in place to create a good, agentless malware scanner soon.

jlabadessa
jlabadessa

I have implemented virtualized desktops & servers within several SMB environments and have found a few key benefits. Reduced cost is the obvious one because 1 high-end desktop/workstation can easily support several users, assuming they are not running any resource intensive applications. Users usually don't even realize their desktop has been virtualized because they are moving from an older PC to a faster desktop experience. Most of my customers run WinXP, MS Office Suite, Web Browser & some IBM Host emulator for access to business apps. Redundancy is a key component so you have to plan for a failure to a main desktop/server & be able to easily have users failover to another. This can be achieved with technology available today. I have one customer that scaled down from 20 physical desktops down to 3; 20 new desktops would have cost somewhere in the $10,000 range...3 high-end desktops cost about $3000. I have also found VMWare Server to be a great tool to quickly deploy DEV/TEST servers and also deploy admin/ops servers. With VMWare cloning, you can build a VM and clone/build others within minutes. For example, one of my customers is using a server running on VMWare to develop a new web site based on ASP & .Net & saved considerable $$ not having to purchase another physical server. Within 15 minutes, another VM was deployed and this web site will be moved to Production server in coming months. In large scale environments, the savings in power consumption & cooling costs can't be overlooked. It really is a no-brainer.

dwdino
dwdino

Are the old teams. Virtualization turns each team into a resource pool to be utilized. These teams, in turn, must shift from resource managers to resource providers. Storage, servers, and networking are just resources consumed by virtualized enviroments. The biggest drawback is when any one of these teams attempts to steer the virtualized environment instead of providing resources. The day is coming where virtualization will drive the deployment, management, and operation of resources and the individual teams will focus on resource availability. Disclosure: I am a virtualization architect response for 500+ virtual systems (Windows, Linux, Solaris, and more), running on 20 physical servers.