It was hard to miss the fact that Microsoft released Virtual Machine Manager 2008, the successor to VMM 2007. In this post I will summarize the new features, add a few thoughts about the VMware-Microsoft showdown, and share my experiences when I updated the beta version.
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Let’s start with the new key features:
Hyper-V support: VMM 2007 only supported Virtual Server. Of course you still can manage Virtual Server 2005 R2 with VMM 2007.
VMware ESX support: Actually, you can manage VMware Infrastructure 3 with VMM 2008. There is no doubt about it: This is the best way to convince VMware customers to move slowly to Hyper-V.
Physical Resource Optimization (PRO): As far as I understand this feature, it just integrates VMM 2008 with Operations Manager 2007. If a “PRO-enabled” server experiences problems (hardware or software), VMM can move a virtual machine automatically to another host or alert an administrator. The manufacturer of the server has to support PRO. It seems as if this has nothing to do with performance issues. Correct me if I am wrong. I think the name of the feature is a bit misleading.
There are also quite a few other (minor) improvements. Please check out this Microsoft paper (Why is this in PDF?) and rakeshm’s VM Management Blog for more information.
Of course, the most important new feature is the Hyper-V support. Even though Hyper-V Manager is a nice tool, the real management tool for Hyper-V is VMM 2008. There has been extensive discussion about the threat that Hyper-V poses for VMware. However, in my view Microsoft’s main virtualization product is not Hyper-V, but Virtual Machine Manager. I think the hypervisor is a relatively unimportant factor in the battle between VMware and Microsoft. The money is earned with the management tools. The compressed installation files of VMM 2008 have about 3GB. This shows how complex VMM is.
By the way, VMM 2008 costs $1,304 and it will be available in November. Considering that System Center suite only costs $1,497, it doesn’t make much sense to buy VMM alone. The System Center Suite includes Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Operations Manager 2007, Configuration Manager 2007, and Data Protection Manager 2007. I think this demonstrates Microsoft’s advantage over VMware. They can integrate and bundle their virtualization products with their other management tools. Even though VMware is still far ahead when it comes to virtualization technology, it will be hard to compete with this armada of sophisticated management solutions.
I wanted to update my VMM 2008 Beta test installation today, but it failed. Actually, VMM 2008 setup crashed when I tried. Thus I had no other choice than to uninstall the beta. Afterwards VMM 2008 was complaining that the existing VMM SQL Server database is incompatible with VMM 2008 RTM. I had to create a new database, which meant that I lost all my previous settings. I just had a couple of virtual machines in my test installation; hence this wasn’t a big deal.
I had a similar problem when I wanted to add my Hyper-V host to VMM 2008. The agent of the beta is incompatible with the RTM version, and VMM 2008 was unable to update it. I had to manually uninstall the old agent and then install the new one afterwards. It seems as if Microsoft has made quite a few changes since the last beta.
Here are some resources you might find useful:
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