BOF65: Virtual Datacenter Post Session Summary

What a great Birds of a Feather session! We had 60 people in the room for "Physical Datacenter in a Virtual World", and nearly everyone there has a production virtual environment. We only had an hour and could have easily doubled that (free beer helps). Everyone shared the experiences, and I'm not sure it could have been better! Below are some general "feelings" and surveys I got out of the crowd about their virtual server datacenters.

  • Nearly all large production environments were using VMware ESX and VMotion
  • Most of those running VMware are testing Virtual Server 2005 R2 to see if they can replace VMware (cost is the big motivator); but the feature set for uptime, redundancy, and performance (SMP) is not 'there yet' with Microsoft's current offering.
  • Only a few are testing betas of SCVMM, and the crowd was confused on what features are in SCVMM vs. RS SP1 vs. Windows Server Virtualization.
  • No one was building host servers larger than four sockets (they are building out, not up)
  • A few are having SAN disk performance issues, even on Fibre Channel. Too many servers patching, booting, etc. can quickly affect all guests on SAN storage
  • Costs are not cut and dry. It seems SANs are now required (shared storage) when they weren't in environments using mostly local storage on servers, which is just shifting their cost from local host (cheap disk) to SAN (not so cheap)
  • Most either have iSCSI or are planning for it. One mentioned they are using it for test/dev and only step up to Fibre Channel in production to keep costs down. (I wanted to ask about anyone using iSCSI on 10GbE, but didn't fit it in)
  • Backups are almost always being done via each guest (one agent per guest) but I learned that NetBackup may have a cheaper licensing model for virtual machine guests
  • Many were confused or unaware of the Microsoft OS licensing changes around virtualization
  • Didn't seem that many knew of Microsoft's approach to the .vhd file standard as a format that will eventually be universal (Vista image backup, WUDSS LUN's, etc)

Thanks to INETA and Culminis for helping making BOF's happen. Thanks to Allen Stewart from the WinCAT Team, SCVMM Team, and others for answering my virtualization questions on the TechEd TLC floor. I'm hoping we can have the same or similar BOF session next year, and see how Windows Server 2008 Server Virtualization and SCVMM being released will change the landscape.