Hyper-V Review

Replica, Cost and Stability are very valuable but support has only been average - has proven to be hit-or-miss

What is most valuable?

There are a few features that make the product stand out:
  1. Replica: We have Replica running in our NY & London datacenters and can (and on a couple of occasions, have) fail over servers quickly and cleanly. Failback also worked like a charm.
  2. Cost: It’s no secret that H-V is much less expensive than VMware; we are saving many thousands a year in licensing & support. It also sets up for future costs savings as the business grows.
  3. Stability: Since we implemented the H-V solution we have reported outstanding uptimes.

How has it helped my organization?

The prime example is the simplicity and cost savings of our new DR/BCP solution. By consolidating our two disparate corporate AD2008/VMWare domains into a single Hyper-V/AD 2012 domain we have:
  1. Drastically reduced the complexity of the environment. NO more kludges or 3rd-party software to get systems like Exchange, Lync or AD Users conversing seamlessly.
  2. About $150K a year in colocation costs. With our private cloud we have a built-in DR/BCP solution on existing infrastructure, no need to farm out to a colo provider.

What needs improvement?

To be determine – we will be conducting a review of the R2 release in the second quarter of 2014.

For how long have I used the solution?

We’ve had the system in place since January 2013 and it went into full production in May 2013.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Not outside the usual challenges in learning a new application. We had 4 months to design, install and run the new domain in parallel to former environments.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Outside of needing to keep the VM hosts patched (we did have an issue with a driver related to storage), no.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Zero – we have a pretty robust infrastructure in place for the number of staff. Clustered DL385’s & EMC VNXe at each datacenter will allow us to scale out and up easily (we are using around 12% of capacity on the VNXe and can drop additional servers into the cluster if there’s a spike in use or we make acquisitions).

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service: Good.Technical Support: Average. I say that as my experience with MSFT Support in general has proven to be hit-or-miss with the first-level support. The second-level support is much better and I haven’t had to go beyond them for solutions.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We had VMware/AD 2008 in place at the two companies; the US infrastructure was already built out with SAN and meshed networking so we had to play catch-up with the UK datacenter. The switch was made at the behest of the group CEO – what the boss wants the boss gets!

How was the initial setup?

Pretty straightforward without any major surprises. The online documentation written up by MSFT and the legion of fans proved to be invaluable. The setup of Replica proved to be very easy.

What about the implementation team?

Implementation was done mostly by in-house staff (2 of us) and we needed a hand from a VAR for some of the clustering setup.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Between the additional hardware/software and consultant costs we spent around $80K.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

No – we felt the two best solutions were VMware & MSFT as we had been using VMware and had many years of experience with MSFT products.

What other advice do I have?

  1. Do not be afraid to work $$$ into the budget in case you need assistance from a 3rd-party.
  2. Test in parallel and do not be a hero and try to do it whole-hog at once.
  3. Do not postpone the DR/BCP part of the project. If you are building out a new infrastructure DO THIS FIRST. We were forced to push this to the back of the project and it bit us for a few days; in the end you do what the executives say but having file/application/server/site disaster recovery is an absolute must before you migrate production data.
  4. If you haven’t gone too far with it do a review of R2; it provides many improvements in the VM & Replica features.
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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