Server virtualization, how you suggest?

Dear experts,
we have a Windows 2000 network, moving to Windows 2003 (Server) and Windows XP (clients). We have two offices connected trought a 4 Mbps VPN. Actually the principle services we host are Active Directory, Domino 6.55, IIS, SQL Server 2005.
We would like to go for virtualization, but are not sure about witch vendor to choose.
VmWare is quiete expensive, but with a big experience (infrastructure enterprise vertion) on his background. The v-motion tecnologies seems to be able to backup the virtual image on fly, and in case of 2 server balance the tollerance and faults.
Windows launched Hyper-V that seems to be a really easy to manage product, and is completely free.
Witch one you would suggest for stability, support, stability and information on the network?
Thanks a lot!
Who is Participating?
Rob WilliamsCommented:
Just to add more opinions:
I have been using Hyper-V and I am very pleased with it. There seems to be some confusion with licensing. Though it can be purchased as part of server 2008's various versions, just to clarify there is a new free core version (command line) that was just recently released.
The naming is slightly different "Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008", but there are no fees involved, and no requirement to buy any server O/S's. Although it can join a domain, it cannot run any core services like the server 2008 versions such as DNS and other server services. From the console all management is done using a command line (it does start a couple of .cpl's for time management and such), and the Hyper-V management console is run on a Vista PC.
If you add System Center Virtual Machine Manager (not free) you gain an amazing set of support and management tools.

As mentioned I have been very pleased, but I would have to say I would be hesitant running essential services in a mission critical environment as of yet, though I have had no problems to date. ESX, though expensive, certainly is the accepted standard to date for enterprise vitalization.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Your best performance will be from EITHER VMWare ESX server (EXPENSIVE), though ESXi MAY be the free version of the product - I have not explored it but it is free or Hyper-V.  There are products such as Virtual PC/Virtual Server/VMWare Server, but performance on these can be expected to be considerably slower than ESX server or Hyper-V.  

Then there are other technologies like Virtual Iron, Xen, and others.

Personally, I like Hyper-V but it is still new - it's NOT beta anymore and it offers some great advantages, but version 1.0 products - which this is, do have a tendency to be buggy.  HOWEVER, Microsoft is using it in production themselves and I have a couple of test servers run on a Hyper-V server.
Gianpiero RossiSystem AdministratorCommented:
I haven't tried Hiper-V but i'm using in several sites the VMWARE, and i have to say to you that it is very easy to manage.
i made several test, for example, if i shut down one host, all come back onn line in 1 minuts, moving one guest from one hotst to another just lost just one packet in a ping. if you have more that 2 host, there is a load balance in the hosts.
the there are a lot of features....
The things that i love, is that the hipery visor is a linux based os, builded to do just this thing! so very snell... and robust...
i'll go in few days at a MS presentation about them teechnologies of virtualization.. and i'll be able to tell you more also about MS

Making Bulk Changes to Active Directory

Watch this video to see how easy it is to make mass changes to Active Directory from an external text file without using complicated scripts.

Gianpiero RossiSystem AdministratorCommented:
p.s. are you italian?
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Since Hyper-V doesn't give you the tools like HA and DRS you may install VMWare ESXi which is free.  Hyper-V only installs on 64 bit OS and is only available in the enterprise edition (if you want to use the 4 free instances) but at a cost of $3K or more.  With ESXi you have the same basic functionality as Hyper-V and level 1 hypervisor (direct on hardware) vs Hyper-V which is running the OS and the hypervisor on top of it.  

ESXi is worth the look and can always be licenses in the future for virtual center HA and DRS.  Support is $500 for the ESXi free version and is worth it if you ask me.  
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Microsoft will be releasing (if it's not already available) System Center Virtual Machine Manager.  However, it's not expected to be as good as the tools VMWare has for management.  HOWEVER, for managing just a few VMs, management software is not necessarily needed.

Further, Paulsolov has been misleading.  Hyper comes with Server 2008 STANDARD AND Enterprise - not just enterprise.  Further, Purchasing Enterprise to have 4 free virtual instances would STILL be required if you used ANY OTHER Virtual Machine Solution.  Lastly, if I'm not mistaken, any version of Windows Server with Hyper-V comes with a +1 license - so that you can run Server Core with Hyper-V and an instance of Standard Server on the same box with a single license.
Also see this recent review of ESX and Hyper-V in Network World:
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
I did mention that the only way to get the 4 free licenses is to get the enterprise version which is quite pricey.  The +1 license gives the capability to run virtual machine instance but you have to purchase the windows license to start with meaning there is no advantage over installing on ESXi if the server you are using for vitualization will dedicated to running virtualiztion software.

If the scope is to migrate physical to virtual the licensing has already been purchased which negates the need for buying extra windows server licenses, at least in the scope provided.

My $.02
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
While I am not saying that you are WRONG, I am saying that the way you are phrasing it could be misunderstood EASILY.  I think it's pointless to mention pricing of Enterprise server and 4 free instances when the same would be required for ANY OTHER PRODUCT.  That is my only objection to your comment - it's potentially confusing because you didn't reference that Standard version included Hyper-V as well.  
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
No problem, I wasn't trying to provide disinformation, I could have phrased is better.  Has Hyper-V come out with a decent P2V tool yet or are they waiting for System Center Virtual Machine Manager to include it?  The P2V with VMWare Converter is fairly seamless most of the time and the starter version is available at no cost.
I would agree with the majority of these posting that ESXi is your best bet.
Also vmotion isn't for backups.  Vmotion allows you to move a VM from one ESX server to another in a matter of seconds.

If you're looking for backups...
You can backup the entire VMDK files on 1 ESXi server and then restore those VMDK files to another ESXi server and fire them up on the 2nd server.  Just don't expect it to happen in a matter of seconds.  You're talking minutes/hours if you are not using shared storage (SAN) between the 2 ESXi servers.
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