I flew to Vegas this week for Microsoft Management Summit 2013, which happens to be in the same hotel (Mandalay Bay) as VMware Partner Exchange one and half months ago. The organizations and activities of both conferences are pretty similar – keynotes, breakout sessions, hands on labs (HOL). It’s pretty exciting to learn new technologies and meet new people.
Hands On Labs
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The hands on labs at MMS are divided into two sections: one is self paced with about 200 seats at the open space outside exhibition hall; the other is 4 instructor led sessions in separate rooms, each of which has about 100 seats. The instructor led sessions are listed on schedule and run at the same pace as breakout sessions.
I tried one instructor led session with Active Directory and had a pretty good experience. There isn’t big difference between self paced and instructor led in terms of the lab environments except that you get better help from experts, and probably faster response time, in instructor led labs. As I observed, there were about 2 to 3 staffs in the self paced lab and quite often they were idle there. Both of the two sections are not crowded and you just find an empty seat and kick it off by yourself.
The 40 or so hands on labs will be available after events for half year if you pay extra $199. To get hands on experience, that is the money well spent.
Hyper-V vs. vSphere
The breakout sessions cover mostly Microsoft System Center, which is the name of the management products from Microsoft. If you are interested to know what products or components in the family, you can simply replace the “vCenter” of VMware products with System Center, for example, System Center Operation Manager (SCOM), System Center Configuration Manager, etc.
The product I am particularly interested in is the System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), which to Hyper-V is like vCenter to ESXi. So I took several sessions related to that. One interesting session I attended today was the “Competitive Advantages of Hyper-V over VMware vSphere.”
Having been immersed in VMware ecosystem for many years, it’s nice to hear Microsoft’s story on the competition. From the presentation slides, the feature comparison seems pretty good on Hyper-V side, and some of the numbers Hyper-V excels vSphere. For example, the maximum size of VHDX disk of Hyper-V is 64TB vs. 2TB VMDK of vSphere; number of active virtual machine 1024 vs. 512. I am not sure how meaningful these differences in real environment, but the numbers look good.
The comparison consists of 4 parts: Scalability, Performance, and VM density; Security and Multi-tenancy; Flexible Infrastructure; High Availability and Resiliency. The detailed features/numbers are organized based on Microsoft Hyper-V, therefore I didn’t see anything that no on Hyper-V but yes on vSphere. I guess VMware probably does the same when it does analysis against Microsoft.
I also noticed a little trick Microsoft played is to add vSphere Hypervisor free edition in the middle column, so you will see a lot more “no” or smaller numbers which is expected for the free minimal product but the visual contrast made Hyper-V look good. As a note to myself, it’s a nice trick to play for comparative analysis.
During the networking comparison, I learned a new technology called NVGRE, an alternative technology to VXLAN. The presenter did a great job to explain how it works. I think I may need to spend more time to dig into NVGRE later.
Amazon AWS Party
After today’s normal sessions, I went on to check out the AWS party organized Bill Shelton which used to be Sr. Director of product management for vCloud at VMware. He is now the General Manager for an AWS service. It’s interesting that Amazon assigns a GM for each service and probably holds him/her accountable for the service. That may explain why Amazon has been very successful in innovating new businesses.
The party went pretty well. I got chances to meet several product managers from both Amazon and Microsoft. I also spent some time to chat with Rakesh Malhotra, VP product management, from Apprenda which had a press release with JP Morgan on private PaaS. It’s a very insightful discussion regarding platform as a service at public clouds vs. private clouds. It made me to think more about many different things, for example, what would be the bigger competitor to VMware than Microsoft in the longer term? I will summarize these thoughts and share them in a future blog. Stay tuned.