Monday, September 28, 2009

Why "We're a Microsoft shop" is bad

Not really related to Windows on the desktop, but interesting to point out anyway. There was a great article last month about server virtualization, which I think also exemplifies why being a "Microsoft shop" is a bad idea. To summarize the article:

Nissan North America Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization last year, reducing their physical server count from 159 to 28, eight of which run Hyper-V. A year later, the team still uses Hyper-V's "Quick Migration" feature to move virtual machines off a Hyper-V host, a process which takes the system down for about 30 seconds while it gets rebooted on another host.

30 seconds doesn't sound like a big deal, right? Well, it is a huge deal if that server is part of a system that moves cars through the plant. You don't just turn those servers back on without testing. Reboot the server for 30 seconds to migrate it to a new Hyper-V host, and you actually have 10-15 minutes where the plant effectively is shut down.

Nissan is actively testing the next version of Hyper-V, which supports seamless "Live Migration" but hadn't deployed it by the time the article was written a month ago.

If you happen to work in IT, you may recognize "live migration" as VMWare's "VMotion", or [Citrix] XenServer's XenMotion. You guessed it - both can already migrate a virtual machine from one VM physical server to another server while the virtual machine is running. This is a problem that's already been solved, folks, and long before Microsoft's Hyper-V came onto the market.

But if other products already support this feature, why use Microsoft's Hyper-V, which clearly wasn't up to the task?

According to Phil D'Antonio, Nissan's manager of conveyors and controls engineering: "We're a Microsoft shop, and they were the first ones that we looked at ... We have a good relationship with Microsoft that we leverage and utilize."

And that is why "We're a Microsoft shop" is bad.

When you are a "Microsoft shop", there's a certain tendency to run with other Microsoft products. I've seen it before: go with Microsoft "Product B" because it should work with Microsoft "Product A" that we already have. Integration should be easy, right? And I'm sure that Nissan N.A. found it easy to integrate Microsoft's Hyper-V into their Microsoft Windows Server environment. Until they needed to do basic tasks like migrate workload from one VM physical server to another, and not completely halt their business.

5 comments:

  1. Wow - I guess MS redefined "critical system" to mean "will sometimes run and sometimes has to be stopped for maintenance." One day MS may discover how to implement failovers and how the same tricks (and others) can be used to migrate a virtual machine without shutting down. Ever hear of how that MS HPC stuff is going? I'd love to hear some stories; I'm in the mood for a good laugh.

    Thanks to MS I'm currently wasting a lot of time and money with their software which does not work as sold. I really don't understand how anyone can have a "good relationship" with MS. Just the other day I had a long discussion with an electronics engineer and I convinced him to choose either Linux or FreeBSD as he works on Rev.2 of one of his products. I showed him how using XPe would simply result in a lot of unneccessary costs. Now if I could only convince my clients never to waste time with MS crapware...

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  2. Microsoft's definition of "critical system" appears to have come from the same dictionary as Amtrak's definition of "on-time".

    Where I work, it's a "Microsoft shop" too.

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  3. this article is pretty narrow minded..

    yes other companies come out with great features and new features get incorporated all the time into various products.

    To suggest that the decision fool hardy based alone on the fact that this one feature was needed is a little short sighted.

    There is something to be said in having the kiss method.. if i tried to take every little piece of technology that might be better i would have a big, complicated mess of technology that requires much expertiece to operate... some features that you know are coming can easily justify the wait.. Heck the xeon 5500 processors and fast memory ( big iron) to make virtualization more viable just came into the world... i think microsoft had great timing on this and knows when to get into the game...

    Yes i am a microsoft shop

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  4. "There is something to be said in having the kiss method.. if i tried to take every little piece of technology that might be better i would have a big, complicated mess of technology that requires much expertiece to operate... i think microsoft had great timing on this and knows when to get into the game... Yes i am a microsoft shop."

    Wow, you must be really behind the curve with thinking like that. HyperV has been out only since June of 2008 (according to Wikipedia). VMWare ESX has been there for YEARS doing this kind of thing. Companies have been moving to virtualization for a long time before Microsoft came to the scene (late, as usual) with their HyperV product.

    With your comments, are you saying that you KNEW Microsoft would eventually come out with a virtual machine system? So while everyone else was lowering their total cost of operations, consolidating hardware, especially dev and test systems, YOU WERE WAITING for Microsoft to eventually release something.

    VMWare actually had a product out that people were using, and demonstrated it was stable. But you waited because Microsoft might come out with something later? ("Some features that you know are coming can easily justify the wait..") So you waited a few years based on a promise or assumption that Microsoft would come out with something.

    Vapourware was made for YOU, my friend.

    I'm glad you're not my IT guy.

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  5. Anonymous said:
    some features that you know are coming can easily justify the wait.. Heck the xeon 5500 processors and fast memory ( big iron) to make virtualization more viable just came into the world... i think microsoft had great timing on this and knows when to get into the game.

    Anon, are you saying that virtualization hasn't been "viable" until just recently when the Xeon5500's came out?

    We've been running ESX systems where I work for several years now. It's rock solid. We have partners that we regularly meet with, and every status meeting there's always a conversation about how we are continuing to move systems to VM.

    But I guess our years of success running VMWare ESX wasn't "viable" because the Xeon5500's weren't out then? I don't think I follow you.

    ReplyDelete

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