Another issue in the Microsoft vs. VMware debate that I'd like to discuss is single-pain-of-glass management. (By the way, that's a deliberate pun. I know it's not that funny. Sorry about that.)
Much is made of single-pane-of-glass management -- so much, in fact, that hardly a product launch goes by without that buzzword being dropped into the marketing spiel.
VMware vSphere4 comes with additional bolt-ons for the core vCenter service, including Update Manager, Guided Consolidation and Converter. However, the vSphere Client still manages the full installation.
Managing through a single pane of glass isn't the case with the Microsoft virtualization platform, which requires multiple management consoles. There are some tasks that you can only be perform with the Hyper-V management node in Server Manager and others you must carry out with System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). Setting up clustering requires the separate Cluster Manager console, and if you want to define your own roles for delegation, you are looking at Authorization Manager. (Since taking the course, however, I have discovered that that setting up the Windows Clustering Service is much simpler and easier than I first thought.)
Much is made of choosing Hyper-V and SCVMM because you can "leverage" your existing Windows skills, but I think this is a chimera. The reality is that vCenter and the vSphere Client are based on Windows as well, and virtualization is so foreign and new to most conventional Windows admins that it doesn't matter whether they're looking at a Microsoft or VMware console. Personally, the toggling between various existing Microsoft management consoles is more confusing (although I've spent the last seven years in front of the VMware's single pane of glass, so that probably says as much about my experiences as anything else).
Things get even more hairy when you want SCVMM to communicate with the much beefier System Center Operations Manager (SCOM). It involves importing management packs and coupling SCOM to SCVMM to allow for reports, as well as something called the PRO Tips feature. We set this up in our classroom environment only to find we had an error, which stopped the reporting feature from working.
(It wasn't really clear why this error had happened, but a quick Google-whack on the error number showed we were not alone. My gut instinct was the fact our PCs were also domain controllers, and that might have been the source of the problem.)
Additionally, although you can use SCOM to aggregate data from multiple SCVMM instances, it seemed much harder to achieve than with vSphere4's linked mode feature. If you want to learn more on how integrate Hyper-V and SCVMM with SCOM, TechNet is good starting point.
One of my plans in the next couple of weeks is to put together a working Hyper-V/SCVMM/SCOM configuration. The reality is that SCOM is huge product, and a four-day course focused on Hyper-V/SCVMM is hardly the right place to look at it. I want to attempt to boil the steps down to the absolute minimum with all the features enabled, because as with all training courses, the module flow isn't necessarily the order you would take during an actual roll-out.
It will be an interesting project to see what it's like to go from zero to hero. I will learn some more and be able to assess more easily whether the Microsoft journey is a shorter or longer one than VMware. At the moment I am unable to do this, because my servers do not support the "hardware assist" features of Intel-VT or AMD-V, which is a requirement for Hyper-V. I did try getting Hyper-V running in VMware Fusion on my Apple MacBook Pro, but unfortunately, Fusion 3 doesn't expose the right CPU attributes for you to run Hyper-V inside a VM, despite the fact you can run ESX 4 inside Fusion 3.
About the expert
Mike Laverick (VCP) has been involved with the VMware community since 2003. Laverick is a VMware forum moderator and member of the London VMware User Group Steering Committee. Laverick is the owner and author of the virtualization website and blog RTFM Education, where he publishes free guides and utilities aimed at VMware ESX/VirtualCenter users, and has recently joined SearchVMware.com as an Editor at Large. In 2009, Laverick received the VMware vExpert award and helped found the Irish and Scottish VMware user groups. Laverick has had books published on VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3, VMware vSphere4 and VMware Site Recovery Manager.