Virtualisation is the practice of installing multiple logical servers onto one physical computer.
When the physical computer is called a server and the logical unit is also called a server it is a bit confusing but it came about because originally one server system needed one physical computer and that computer by default was called the server.
So today we have a virtualisation layer created by special software which allows us to run multiple logical servers on the one device.
This has come about because applications on servers tend to run best and be controlled best when they have their own server, so as not to be interfered with by other applications.
As the hardware became more powerful it made less sense to have lots of physical computers running single applications, it just wasted space in the server room and consumed power.
The clever engineers figured out how to share resources between multiple logical servers on one physical device to reduce wastage.
So now memory and processor utilisation can be run at higher levels to extract better value from each box in less space using less power (referred to has high density computing).
In 2012 Microsoft beefed up its Hyper-V product offering in an attempt to wipe out its competitor VMware in this virtualisation layer battle.
As the two Gartner Magic Quadrants below demonstrate, the game has changed. VMware has held its technology advantage, Citrix has fallen away and Microsoft has moved up the scale for ability to execute and completeness of vision.
As of June 2014:
As of June 2011:
However, for the SME market place the choice is pretty clear, VMware may offer a little more on the high tech side but for our relatively simple server environments the extra features do not represent good value.
In most cases the features we need are free from Microsoft making it a very compelling choice.
Even inside our company the technicians argue about the capabilities of competing free versions as both have compelling free offers to entice clients into their fold.
Since 2012 we have been installing Hyper-V in preference to the VMware we previously sold and our clients have been very happy with the results. In most cases they are not aware of the technology as it just goes in and delivers the solution they need for their business.
General consensus based on hundreds of servers using the technology is that the offering from Microsoft provides better value to the SME client and the features are mature enough that the businesses are not missing out on features they need.
If you have not moved all of your IT systems to the cloud yet and are contemplating upgrading servers, especially if you are still using Windows 2003 servers that are about to go end of life in July 2015 now is the time to be making decisions about these technologies.
If you are getting advice that you need VMware it may be time to get a second opinion from someone that can offer you a choice between VMware and Microsoft’s Hyper-V.
These are not trivial decisions as they will affect your computing environment in terms of cost and capability for years to come so choose wisely.
David Markus is the founder of Combo – the IT services company that is known for solving business problems with IT. How can we help?