It's really easy to write off certain technologies as being unsuitable for the enterprise. After all, there's a lot of really bad stuff out there. But, there's also a lot of "almost good enough" (or, read another way, "not quite good enough) stuff out there, too. I see the current version of Hyper-V in this category for many organizations and "good enough" (without the "almost") for many more.
Here's the problem, though: Once placed into the "not quite good enough" category, many organizations fail to revisit the product later on. While this is understandable in some cases, it's also short-sighted. Any time a technology refresh is approaching, whether it's for hardware or it's for software, some level of market analysis should be done to ensure that the organization continues to purchase the right solutions. After all, things change.
When it comes to some products, IT staffers are notoriously beholden to the vendors. In particular, wares from Cisco and from VMware are often cited as the "best of breed" and, therefore, the best solution for the organization. At present, I agree that VMware's enterprise class vSphere hypervisor is a best of breed product; its feature set is the envy of the competition, which is one of the reasons that VMware is able to make onerous licensing changes as new versions are released.
I see this situation changing, though. From everything I've seen so far, Microsoft will make great strides toward closing the vSphere/Hyper-V feature gap with the coming release of Hyper-V 3.0. Although vSphere 5 has set a new bar, Hyper-V 3.0's feature set will have the capability to handily support all of the hypervisor needs for even more organizations that the current 2008 R2 release is able. Hyper-V 3.0 will bring to the table such features as:
- An extensible virtual switch. Yes, this is already present in vSphere, but is one more deficiency that Microsoft is correcting.
- OpenFlow support.
- Concurrent storage live migrations
- Live migration of virtual machines without using shared storage. I see this as being a potentially killer feature in the SMB space. Shared storage suitable for virtualization needs can be an expensive purchase for an SMB.
- Much improved scalability.
- Dynamic memory.
- A new virtual hard disk format (VHDX) that supports larger volume sizes.
- Any storage device to any storage device virtual machine replication. Replciate a VM to a thumb drive and take it home.
This is just a subset of the new features come to Hyper-V 3.0.
As a CIO, you have to rely on your technical staff to bring you reasonable alternatives when it comes to deploying new technologies and replacing old ones. I mentioned before that I've seen a lot of IT staffers very stuck in their ways. When it comes time to replace your hypervisor or upgrade to a new version, insist that your staff put Hyper-V 3.0 through its paces. In a future article, I will do a side-by-side Hyper-V 3.0/vSphere 5 cost comparison, but for now, you can refer to an older version of that article.
In that article, note that the cost differential between Hyper-V and vSphere isn't massive at the front end. That said, VMware does charge quite a lot got ongoing maintenance and this article I references earlier does not take into account VMware's new licensing program.
After a thorough evaluation of the options, you and your staff may determine that sticking with the status quo makes the most sense for the organization. This article is not intended to sell you a Hyper-V license. Instead, my goal is to encourage anyone and everyone to continually review current markets before embarking on a new journey. Don't just ask people to look at other solutions - require it.
Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive with CampusWorks, Inc. Scott is available for consulting, writing, and speaking engagements and can be reached at email@example.com.