It’s 3:11 AM here and I just got my first Vmware demo environment with vSphere 4 (i.e. ESX 4.0) configured to show vMotion. Having set up both Live Migration and now the aforementioned vMotion, I can tell you that I much prefer the setup under Hyper-V. Just getting vSphere installed (pretty simple using its GUI Setup) and configured (not straightforward … maybe it’s my unfamiliarity with the server-based Vmware products, but it is not intuitive like Vmware Workstation is) took me the better part of today to figure out all of the little nuances. OK, sure, I could have probably read some docs (which I wound up referencing), but setting up clustering and then Live Migration is just easier.

I also didn’t like the fact that vCenter needs a 32-bit ODBC connection to work (it uses a SQL Server backend), and it does not install the latest SQL Express version (if you choose not to use an existing instance with an appropriate DSN). That means those of you on later versions of Windows (read: Windows Server 2008 R2) will have to patch immediately. I wound up configuring vCenter Server under a Windows Server 2003 R2 VM.

As for the actual features – vMotion and Live Migration – they do essentially the same thing (migrate a virtual machine from one hypervisor host to another while keeping it up and running). They both work well.

The one major advantage of vSphere + vMotion at the moment is that I can demo it live on my laptop; my Live Migration stuff has been captured from a setup I did about a month ago when I had access to hardware. If you’re wondering why, it’s because the VT-x extensions that enable things like virtualization are not emulated in VMs (and if you think about it – it makes sense; virtualize a virtualized environment isn’t a normal use of the technology). Both Microsoft and Vmware do not emulate VT-x. To do vSphere, it seems like Vmware does something special under the covers. I hope MS does something similar because I’d love to demo Live Migration “in the flesh”.

Having said all of that, it’ll be interesting to see how I get along with vSphere now that I have it set up. Since many customers of mine are invested in vSphere/ESX for their virtual environments, it’s clearly in my best interests to have a good working knowledge of setting it up. I know DBAs probably won’t be doing most of what I do, but this work I’m doing right now helps in conversations with the other groups (especially the guys setting up the VMs). I’m not new to Vmware – I’ve been using Workstation for nearly 10 years with a lot of success, and I used Vmware Workstation 7 to set up this new vSphere 4/vMotion environment.

I have yet to play with any of the other virtualization products since quite honestly, my customers really only talk about Vmware or Microsoft. The others don’t come up in conversation. If you’re using one of the other ones, I’m not denegrating your choice – do not take it that way. It’s just that I’m not seeing it out there, much like the most common storage vendor I see at customers is EMC. There is other stuff, too – IBM, some HP, a Hitachi here and there – but EMC seems to be ubiquitous. All I care about is ensuring you have the right configuration no matter what hardware/software choices you make.

OK, off to get a few hours of shuteye and back to the grind in the AM to finish up some stuff before I head to Tokyo!