vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: hybride cloud

This is my 6th posting in a serie of postings in which I will compare features of VMware vSphere 5 with Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. Goal of the postings is to give a non-biased overview on features of two main players in the server virtualization market: VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V. I will not use the marketing comparison tables used by both vendors to promote their unique features while ignoring the competitors features (as marketing is all about).

This posting will compare the options to operate a hybrid cloud. A hybrid cloud is runing a IT-infrastructure based on on-premise infrastrucuture *and* a public cloud infrastructure.

Other blogs in the serie are:

vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: storage integration
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V:management
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: live migrations
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: virtual networking
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: high available VMs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Resource metering for chargeback
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: costs

A hybrid cloud can be usefull for a lot of scenarios. Think about running stateless webservers in the cloud and backend servers in your own managed infrastructure. The value is a scaleable web farm for relative low costs while running data in your own, private datacenter. Another scenario would be using the public cloud for cloud bursting. If an organization temporary needs more resources those resources are consumed from a public cloud provider. Think about Sports Illustrated. Once a year the Bikini issues comes out which results in a load of extra hits. The other months the hits are on a normal level.
Think about running Test/Dev in the public cloud and production in private cloud.

Microsoft hybrid cloud management
Microsoft offers a public cloud Infrastructure as a Service named Azure. Azure allows to run virtual machines with support for several guest operating system. Microsoft Hyper-V virtual disk files in VHD and VHDX format can be imported into Azure. I do not think other, non Microsoft service providers offers this service yet.

How to upload a VHD file to Azure is described here. Mind Azure does not allow to use Dynamic disks. You will need to convert to a fixed disk first. Also the guest support for uploads is limited to Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012.

I am not aware of a method to download virtual machine diskfiles back to you own infrastructure.

Virtual machines running in your own private cloud and running in Azure can be managed from a single console. This console is the System Center App Controller, part of System Center 2012.

Cloud bursting allows to very quickly add extra resources when demand is high. A public cloud is an excellent resource for cloud bursting as only consumption is paid. I am not aware of cloud bursting features in Azure. If additional resources are needed manual actions needs to be taken to start and stop virtual machines.

VMware vSphere hybrid cloud management
There are a lot of public cloud providers running vSphere which allows to move vSphere virtual machines from on-premise to public cloud. An overview of these so called vCloud Service Providers can be seen on the VMware site.   All vSphere supported guest operating systems can run in a VMware vCloud.

The VMware vCloud Connector software allows to move virtual machines back and forth between on-premise vSphere (and vCloud Director) and vCloud public cloud.  vCloud Connector is available to all vSphere and vCloud Director customers as a free download. To get support for vCloud Connector, you must have an active support contract for vSphere or vCloud Director. This post explains how to use vCloud Director.

Several solutions in the VMware eco-system are available for cloud bursting. For example F5 has a loadbalancer which is able to communicate with vCenter Server and vCloud Director placed in a public cloud. When the F5 loadbalancer notices an increased load on for example http requests it can send a signal to vCenter Server or vCloud Director to start additional virtual machines with a webserver role. When the load returns to normal VMs are shutdown again. No manual intervention. All VMware vCloud Service Providers support this scenario.

Conclusion
VMware is a few steps ahead of Microsoft in managing hybrid clouds. vCloud Connector allows to move VMs back and forth without a few mouse clicks. App Controller and the Azure upload is a bit primitive and restricted at the moment. Download from Azure to on-premise is not possible.

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About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

One Response to vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: hybride cloud

  1. Hi Marcel,
    great comparison. As far as I know you can also download a VM from Windows Azure back to your on-premise solution. Don’t know if this is documented but after a quick search I found: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/WAVirtualMachinesforWindows/thread/ea159bb9-fd67-4248-b6f4-1b3904a63455
    Best, Daniel

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