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Lab Validation: EMC Symmetrix VMAX and Microsoft Server Virtualization Scalability


The Bigger Truth

Server virtualization adoption has taken off in recent years due to the fantastic savings that can be achieved as under-utilized servers are consolidated to run on a cost-efficient virtual infrastructure. Consolidating applications running on under-utilized servers onto a fewer number of servers reduced cost and complexity. Connecting growing pools of virtualized servers to a centralized SAN-attached storage infrastructure magnified the savings as it increased the flexibility, and availability, of the underlying IT infrastructure.

As the number of organizations that have embraced server virtualization continues to rise, the rate of adoption within each organization often stalls. Having realized the benefits of server virtualization for utility, test, and development applications, IT professionals are looking to extend the benefits to mission critical production applications—at scale and with high availability, predictably fast performance, and automated ease of deployment.

ESG Lab has confirmed that the combination of EMC Symmetrix VMAX and Hyper-V R2 is ready to meet the challenges of the next wave of virtual server adoption. Hyper-V R2, which is built into Windows Server 2008 R2, provides the underlying virtualization technology that enables server consolidation. EMC’s flagship enterprise-class Symmetrix VMAX product line provides the scalable, reliable, and fast storage that’s needed in a highly consolidated environment. With EMC TimeFinder and PowerShell scripts for rapid and efficient server provisioning and powerful Microsoft capabilities—including Live Migration, CSV, and Failover Clustering—ESG Lab has confirmed that EMC and Microsoft have created an enterprise-class platform for wide-scale virtual server deployments.

This ESG Lab project highlights the practical and compelling value of EMC ELab. EMC invests a huge amount of time, money, and effort to make sure its products work well with existing networks, servers, non-EMC storage, applications, operating systems, and server virtualization technologies—including the Hyper-V R2 solution examined in this report. EMC’s ELab investments can be used to substantially lower the total cost of ownership by addressing not only the visible costs—meaning hardware, software, and services— but also the embedded, or hidden, costs of testing, interoperability, and integration.

Beyond the scalability and ease of deployment documented in this report, a couple of facts about Hyper-V should be considered—specifically related to maturity, manageability, and cost—before betting on Microsoft server virtualization technology. While it can be argued that earlier versions of Hyper-V lacked features and capabilities compared to VMware, ESG Lab feels that the Hyper-V R2 release in late 2009 has the features required for wide- scale virtual server deployment. From a manageability standpoint, it should be noted that Microsoft’s growing suite of hypervisor-agnostic management tools can manage at the application level regardless of whether applications are deployed on a physical or virtual server. With Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager, you can manage virtual machines running on a mix of Microsoft, VMware, or Xen hypervisors.

Last but not least, it should be noted that Microsoft Hyper-V Server is a free download, limited in terms of support for total memory, number of processors, and quick migration. Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Enterprise, and Datacenter editions each include a Hyper-V R2 license for a single physical server as well as licensing for one, four, and unlimited virtual machines, respectively. Compounded by the savings that can be achieved when you leverage existing investments in Microsoft training, certification, and interoperability and the field-proven reliability and efficiency of the EMC Symmetrix product line, ESG Lab feels that EMC Symmetrix VMAX and Hyper-V R2 can be used to create a cost effective and compelling platform for the next wave of scale-out virtual server deployment.

© 2010, Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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