Rolling Review: VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.5 - InformationWeek
12:15 PM
Joe Hernick
Joe Hernick
Connect Directly

Rolling Review: VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.5

Server virtualization's 800-pound gorilla gets more agile in the face of rising competition.

VMware Infrastructure 3.5, the 800-pound gorilla in our Rolling Review of hypervisors, continues to lead the virtualization pack in performance, support, and scalability.

In tests, the VMware Infrastructure suite -- comprising the VMware ESX hypervisor, vCenter Server, and client tools -- got our virtualization job done handily. But whether it's worth the premium price may be another matter.

Version 3.5 answers some calls for easier setup and management features. For example, VMware offers Guided Consolidation, an easy-to-use analysis tool for virtualizing Windows environments, along with new patch management capabilities and enterprise-class support. In addition, the VMware ecosystem offers thousands of ready-to-roll virtual appliances, and API tie-ins and vendor partnerships provide limitless management, reporting, automation, storage, and security options.

VMware also has the most difficult learning curve for novice admins and the highest price tag among the participants in this Rolling Review -- does this sound like a winning combo to you?

Citrix Systems promises that you'll only need a few minutes to achieve Xen, and we had our base Virtual Iron, Parallels, and Hyper-V test platforms up in less than an hour. Our virtualization-neophyte experience wasn't as smooth with VMware. Yes, ESX 3.5 did everything we asked of it for our small-business model test case -- and more -- but it took the better part of a day to get our base environment up and running. This was a "real world" test, using IT admin test subjects who have limited familiarity with virtualization and no familiarity with VMware. This is in line with many small IT shops, working under constricted budgets, with limited training options and cranky CFOs, faced with aging hardware and flat staffing models.

For shops still running VMware ESX 3.0, the incremental upgrade to 3.5 makes sense for the added management features and VirtualCenter improvements. New customers looking to get their feet wet can check out the 60-day free, full-featured trial to assess and experiment with physical to virtual conversions, consolidation modeling, and plain old-fashioned comfort and ease of daily use. Then again, all vendors in this Rolling Review offer some form of free demo. During the course of our testing, the price points changed for some participants, and additional technology and improvements have been introduced.

Get Secure
Is your virtualized infrastructure protected? Find out how to gain control.
To be clear, VMware is well worth a look. The planning tools are unmatched, and the potential for patch management and green computing options can make the high price worth it for many. The product just took a bit more head-scratching and manual-reading for initial setup than the competition.

We brought a Windows administrator with minimal virtualization experience into the virtualization test lab to help us get a newbie's perspective on the physical-to-virtual scenario. The best quote from our VMware experience? "Whaddaya mean I need an Oracle database? Oh -- SQL will work? Great. So here we go, setting up a SQL 2005 server to manage our VMware environment. This is what I need to use to get a global view, right?"


1 of 2
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of IT Report
In today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll