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VMWare ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V - Embedded?

I've read through many threads regarding ESXi and Hyper-V, but still can't determine what is best for us.  Here is our situation:

Dell Poweredge R710 server with 2 x Xeon CPUs, 32GB RAM, 3 x 1TB RAID1 arrays, 4 NIC's

We would like to virtualize:
- 1 x Windows Server 2008 Standard to run an ERP program (with SQL)
- 1 x SBS 2003 Server (migratied from physical server) that has our Exchange and File Sharing
- 3 (or more) Windows 7 Clients where users can login remotely

We have about 30 users on the domain.

The main thing for us is reliability - we want to be able to backup the VM's daily to our iSCSI NAS without shutting them down.

We have the option to get ESXi embedded on the Dell server, which would be nice.  I don't think Hyper-V has embedded capability which might mean adding another drive or partition to the system.

Any thoughts on the best solution?

3 Solutions
Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Having done both I would recommend ESXi as it has a smaller footprint and is much easier to upgrade (last Hyper-V installation took 1 hour longer due to Windows SP1 upgrade).  If you're doing Hyper V Enbedded you lose some of the Hyper-V Management features.

For ESXi I would recommend vSphere Essentials, for $500 you can get vCenter with reporting/monitoring capabiliteis and up to 3 ESXi hosts.

ESXi can run on SD Card on the R710 which means that you don't have to get 1 or 2 drives at a cost of few hundred dollars each.

My $.02
Neil RussellTechnical Development LeadCommented:
Again having used both and managing clustered R710's I prefer vmware everyday of the week.

Just adding that you really should be having more than one AD server And would be better on a seperate physical machine, just for redundamcy purposes.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Both very good Type 1 Hypervisors.

"we want to be able to backup the VM's daily to our iSCSI NAS without shutting them down."

The free version of VMware vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) will not do this for you, you will need to purchase it, and also a Third Party Backup Application.

Here is the VMware KB on installing ESXi on USB/SD:


Creating Active Directory Users from a Text File

If your organization has a need to mass-create AD user accounts, watch this video to see how its done without the need for scripting or other unnecessary complexities.

Andrej PirmanCommented:

any virtualization used, it will NOT be great performer on your RAID config. 1TB disks I assume they are SATA - they are slow, by independent research SATA disks are 10-12 times slower than SAS drives in RAID configuration for database read/write operations, mostly due to the lack of internal disk cache...and also speed of disk itself.

I would recommend adding 2 SAS disk 15.000 rpm, maybe 300 GB would be enough, and configure them in RAID 1. Use this fast RAID 1 array to install ESXi core, then install:
- Server 2008 R2 (I strongly recommend R2, it is Windows7/2008R2 kernel, while in 2008 server it is Vista kernel...enough said) with 80 GB "Thin provision" disk for SYSTEM
- SBS 2008 R2 install on another "Thin-provisioned" disk on SAS RAID array, let's say 100 GB would be ok
- regarding 3 or more Windows 7 clients...you could go into VMWare View...install just 1 Windows 7 template, which all clients use via VMWare remote desktop. It is faster than Windows Terminal Server/Remote Desktop. For this to acomplish, you might use existing Server 2008R2 installation, or install another one

Then you have 3 x 1TB disks in RAID1...hmmm, is it really RAID1, or you meant RAID5?
RAID1 uses 2 disks, while RAID1e could extend over 3 or more disks, doing mirroring.
I do not like RAID5 with just 3 disks, because:
- it is slow...maybe for archiving
- if 1 disk fails, it takes ages (meaning, days) to rebuild, and another disk might fail during operation
If your RAID controller supports RAID1e, then I suggest RAID1e, if not...well...if 1 TB of storage is enough, setup simple RAID1 with 2 disks and set 3rd disk as hot-spare, to jump-in when one disk fails.

Anyways...use this LARGE RAID array on SATA disks as SECOND drive in existing Widnows Server virtual machines.
Create, for example, new 500GB "thin-provision" disk, and attach it to Server 2008R2. Then in Server 2008R2 format it and use it as, for example, E:\ partition to store DATA, SQL database, etc.

Regarding SQL...
MS SQL server operates in the manner of FIRST writing transaction to the LOG file, then when LOG file is successfully written, it is considered DONE. Only afterwards, when server has some spare time, it writes actual data into DATABASE file!
So logic is to have MSSQL LOG files on fast, responsive disks (in our case on SAS RAID1 array), while MSSQL DATA files can be on slower SATA disks.

Regarding your question, Windows Hyper-V or ESXi....well, Hyper-V relies on Windows kernel, ESXi on Linux. Question answered. :)
ahotmailAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the input everyone - great advice.  One thing I forgot to mention is that budget is restrictive.  So we can't purchase a full VMware solution.  The VMware essentials, although $500, doesn't seem to have vMotion for backing up/moving live VM's.  That is why we were looking at Hyper-V which has Live Migration for free.

If there is a VMware solution that is inexpensive and can backup the VM's, then that seems the way to go.  Is there a 3rd party app that will (inexpensively) do this?

Thanks again.
Andrej PirmanCommented:
My 2 cents on BACKUP with VMWare's free ESXi:
I have many installations of few Windows Servers 2008/2008R2 on standalone ESXi. For the purpose of BACKUP I installed simple iSCSI NAS device, presented it to ESXi as external storage, and attached 300-500GB partitions to each VM for the purpose of automated built-in Windows Backup.

On oldest installation, 628 days of backup without single error!
And it's free, and it works.
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Checkout my Article

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide
If you only have 1 physical host, Live Migration/vMotion is meaningless until you have at least two physical hosts. Live Migration/vMotion is about moving a running VM between different compute hosts. It requires that the VMs be on shared iSCSI, FC, SAS, or NAS (VMWare only) storage. VMWare Essentials does allow you to do vMotion.

It isn't clear how many physical disks you actually have. It sounds like you have six 3.5" SATA/NL SAS drives at 7.2K RPM. Your best performing solution is to use all of them in a RAID 10 array, which can probably get you enough IOPS.
i would recomend the VMware ESXI because the vmware is like a platform that the os's work on not a full os.
in the microsoft virtual server you need to install a server (with all his stuff) and you start the other server "within" the server you installed.

If you have proper hardware then you can go for vMotion or live migration else it won't benefit you.

We are running both Vshpere (4 host) and HyperV (4 host) and SANs as data store. Vshpere and HyperV both have live migration. Vshpere allow you to customize more and lot more fine tuning. However, if running Microsoft Windows product, by experience I choosing for HyperV instead of VSphere (unless very much need on fine tuning):

1. Before this, Vsphere 4.0 failed with Windows 2008 R2 on networking, when we unable to put fix IP on guest. But this have been solved in version 4.1 - unfortunate we cannot wait for 4.1 at that time.

2. Second big issue you might to consider when implement Microsoft thingy over VMWare product is the SLA. Have a read first, http://www.vmware.com/support/policies/ms_support_statement.html as you may got stuck with your SI then VMWare then Microsoft when you windows or exchange cease to function.

3. We are running a lot of Windows servers, by having HyperV we can save a lot on licensing cost. Here is how, http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/licensing-r2.aspx You cannot get this when running VShpere.

New Vsphere 5.0 seems to out perform HyperV even better.

But if money is the constrain the you can choose ESXi or HyperV only - both are free but without live migration. But if you serious then go for VSphere or HyperV with System Center.

look at vmware essentials plus

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