VMware or Microsoft? Deploying Naked Servers (aka Bare Metal)

imageBeing able to provision and update your virtualization hosts from bare metal is key to any environment.  Whether it is in a private, hybrid or public cloud environment being able to quickly provision hosts to support your virtual servers, quite simply is vital for the todays datacenters.  Today we are going to talk about bare metal deployments in VMware and Hyper-V.  Contrary to popular belief we actually do deliver bare metal deployment of Hyper-V hosts.

In VMware they have a nice technology called Auto Deploy.  You can learn more about it here: Understanding vSphere Auto Deploy.  What I like about Auto Deploy is that it not helps to provision the host but also re-provision the host to keep it up to date.  It is a very slick piece of technology.  One thing I do like about Auto Deploy is the concept of host profiles. 

Host Profiles allow you to define machine-specific configuration such as networking or storage setup. The host profiles essentially become templates that allow you quickly provision or provision an existing host.  Host profiles also provide you a methodology for remediation of you hosts.  If for example someone modifies a vSphere host directly, Auto Deploy can come in and remediate the system back into it’s previous state.   Currently in Windows Server, host profiles are used to initially provision new hosts and are not leveraged to remediate
the configuration of existing hosts.   In the end you can provide a consistent and up to date deployment across all your hosts.

With Microsoft technologies there are a couple of ways to tackle deployment.  There are several built in tools I could talk about here for deployment. Kevin even talked about quite a few here: VMware or Microsoft?–Did you know that there’s no extra charge?   Like Windows Deploy Services (WDS), which provides PXE and image capabilities.  I could also talk about the free Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) you can learn more here: Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2012 with Michael Niehaus. I am not going to go into detail on these tools mainly because while these technologies are great (and FREE), they are not truly enterprise scalable. 

imageHowever, if we are going to fairly compare the Auto Deploy with Microsoft technologies, I get to include System Center.  You may be saying that is not fair, and that I cheating.  In fact, I am not.  Understand folks whenever anyone mentions to me vCenter, vCloud Suite, vCops my mind immediately goes to System Center for comparisons. 

This is one of the things that personally has always irked me about the comparison documents that come from VMware.  They very rarely include our whole stack toe to toe.  They usually only compare the entire VMware stack against Hyper-V or Windows Server 2012 and not System Center 2012.  More importantly System Center is not just used to manage your virtualized environments.  It can also manager your entire physical environment.  In a sense System Center does not care if the servers are physical, virtual or in the Cloud, it is going to manage and maintain them just the same.  Our hope for this series is to be as open and honest with you on these technologies, and when you look at the series I hope you see a fairly equal approach, even though we are Microsoft employees.  But I digress back to bare metal deployment. 

Specifically when you look at bare metal deployment in VMware it requires Enterprise + for the Auto Deploy technologies.  This truly brings the entire System Center Suite into the conversation.  When we talk bare metal deployment with Microsoft technologies we talk about System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).  SCVMM is our management solution for the virtualized datacenter, enabling you to configure and manage your virtualization host, networking, and storage resources in order to create and deploy virtual machines and services to private clouds that you have created.  BTW SCVMM can also manage Citrix XenServer 6.0, and VMware vSphere 5.1 servers. 

So can we do bare metal deployment?  The answer is yes and in a very enterprise friendly way.  You can learn more about how SCVMM can be used to accomplish bare metal deployment take a look at this article I wrote last year: 

Build Your Private Cloud in a Month: Forging your Private Cloud from Bare Metal with System Center 2012 SP1 Virtual Machine Manager

While we do have the concepts of profiles (similar to Host Profiles) in SCVMM.  We do not include the ability to update the hosts and keep them up to date.  However, that one thing in our current technology, that will change on Oct. 18th (Save the Date October 18th! Release for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server R2).  is the ability to remediate our hosts like VMware currently can do with Auto Deploy.  In Windows Server 2012 R2 (with PowerShell 4.0) will include that ability with a new feature called desired state configuration (DSC).  We are also going to some great network profiling as well in SCVMM R2.  You can learn more about SCVMM R2 here:

Best of TechEd 2013 - What’s New in Private Cloud with System Center 2012 R2 VMM 

Also if you want to learn more about DSC check out this article: 

Windows Server 2012R2 Desired State Configuration (DSC)

I hope you enjoyed this post, and please comment.  If you missed any parts of the series take a look here:

VMware or Microsoft? – The Complete Series