Virtualization shoot-out: VMware vSphere

The world's leading server virtualization platform is still tops in performance, scalability, and advanced features

1 2 3 4 5 Page 2
Page 2 of 5

We built a fresh 64-bit Windows Server 2008 R2 VM on the single host and installed VMware vCenter Server on this VM. In stark contrast to Hyper-V, which might require several different management systems, this vCenter Server VM is essentially all that's needed for a full-fledged, fully redundant VMware virtual infrastructure. With vCenter Server up and running, we created a data center object and defined a cluster for the blades. After adding the hosts, we were ready to do the baseline host configuration.

Once the first host is built and configured, you can create a host profile based on that configuration and apply it to your other hosts. Very quickly, all the hosts in our cluster were up and running, ready to be loaded with VMs. In fact, VMware vSphere was as fast as or faster than the other four solutions to install and configure.

VMware vSphere management
With vCenter Server configured, all of the key virtualization management features -- including VM migration, load balancing, and high availability -- are ready to roll. For VMware, these features are old hat and quite mature. That said, high availability (HA) is still a bit of a pain, requiring valid forward and reverse DNS for each host, as well as at least two management networks configured to maintain heartbeats across the HA cluster.

The vSphere Client is much more refined than past VMware management client iterations, with better error reporting, logging, and information delivery. For example, it's a pain to quickly find the IP addresses of VMs on some of the other solutions, but it's extremely simple to do so with vSphere. This may seem like a small piece of the overall puzzle, but it's indicative of the thoroughness of VMware's solution -- you generally don't have to dig very deep to find what you're looking for.

Building and maintaining VMs and VM templates is simple and straightforward. A VM can be converted to a template on a whim, so changing a template is a snap. Further, the guest customization associated with Linux and Windows VMs simplifies the deployment of VMs from those templates with unique names and addresses and other minor configuration changes. All of this makes working with VMs very fluid and simple.

For managing large infrastructures, VMware also provides the vSphere Management Assistant (vMA), a prepackaged VM that contains the powerful vSphere CLI (vCLI) scripting tool and various management hooks. To deploy a batch of new virtual machines from a single template is the work of but a few minutes in vCLI, and this framework extends to various SDKs that can weave Perl, Python, and other languages into the vSphere management fabric.

VMware vSphere's management console presents a whole lot of information cleanly. Here it's firing up eight load generation VMs.
1 2 3 4 5 Page 2
Page 2 of 5