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I'm considering some virtualization technologies in our University. And I really don't know which of them to use.

VMWare seem to be the default choice, but with the free version of vSphere 5.1 (atual version) we have the 32GB of system RAM limit. What does not happen in Hyper-V Server 2012.

Since we are an university we have DreamSpark Premium with Hyper-V. So we have the "paid" version of Hyper-V. What is a point in favor of the Microsoft solution.

The main question now is what about Linux guest systems? And BSD ones? We have a lot of Debian systems running and we plain to use some appliances like FreeNAS and pfSense (both FreeBSD based), and we don't know if Hyper-V is a good solution for the unix guys.

Thanks in advance,

EDIT: Just one more thing; we have some Opterons without AMD-V; is this an issue with ESXi or Hyper-V?

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closed as not constructive by Sven, joeqwerty, Michael Hampton, TheCleaner, kce May 1 '13 at 20:06

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Optersons without AMD-V isn't a show stopper, but will limit your options, and are going to be old enough that you really should think about ditching them. Also, you'll want tons of RAM and RAM bandwidth (which the older processors are unlikely to support). FreeBSD has good support for both now; but not sure it's it's trickled in pfSense yet (they tend to be a bit slow to adopt). – Chris S May 1 '13 at 19:05
An important question given the potential issues with the age of the hardware that Chris pointed out: "Do you really need true virtualization?" -- If you can get away with something like FreeBSD Jails (possibly with Debian/kFreeBSD for your Debian needs?) you can get a lot more life out of the older hardware. – voretaq7 May 1 '13 at 19:10
DreamSpark Premium doesn't license production servers, only development servers for product development and testing. – longneck May 1 '13 at 19:29
up vote 7 down vote accepted

You've reasoned this out on your own already. VMware has good Unix support. But many shops see a licensing advantage to Hyper-V, especially if they're primarily Windows-based. VMware at scale doesn't come cheap, but you can leverage your University's education status.

Test both. Check guest OS support for YOUR needs, compare costs and ease of management and go from there.

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Don't forget -- "our University"...academic pricing on either choice will be crazy cheap compared to the business pricing. – TheCleaner May 1 '13 at 18:34
Neither Dreamspark nor VMware Academic Program licenses can be used for production environments though. Both Microsoft and VMware provide academic pricing, where MS licenses are about 90% off retail and VMware about 50% off retail. – Reality Extractor May 1 '13 at 18:57
VMWare appears to be the solution, even with the limitations. Thanks for the brainstorm... Unfortunatelly the thread was closed :( – Vinícius Ferrão May 1 '13 at 20:26

HyperV runs LINUX systems without glaring issues, but you're subjecting yourself to needless blame whenever their VM's have issues that might not be relevant to the underlying Windows 2012 Server or Hyper-V.

An unexpected and significant issue you need to discern is whether your enterprise change control practices are consistently practiced by the Windows Server groups and everyone else since your UNIX admins might howl at being subjected to monthly reboots from Patch Tuesday.

It's reasonable to ask them or anyone else into periodic restarts but its something along with a laundry list of others too long to post into an answer that will help elongate instead of circumventing your career their.

You will likely learn, that modifying your perimeter or internal security boundaries in the manner of migrating existing measures onto VM's will subject you to criticism whenever those boundaries are violated by curious students in an academic environment typically more tolerant than a private commercial network. The limits of that criticism will seem boundless when you're the beneficiary of federal / municipal funding.

Likely, you're going to implement both with the intent of recommending LINUX VM's work from LINUX hosts, Windows for HyperV and if also implementing this for student VM's, well they're not offerred any technical support and will be partitioned off on logical and physical networks far away from your faculties production systems.

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One benefit of virtualization in general is that your VMs are no longer subject to restarts just because the host has to restart. Pretty much all virtualization providers have technology that allows you to migrate an active VM off of a host that needs to be patched. – Reality Extractor May 1 '13 at 21:21
The only unfortuante thing is the vmotion is not free, all the other hypervisors can support this for free. – tony roth May 3 '13 at 14:23

Your question is pretty vague, so use whatever you have expertise in. If your people know Hyper-V then use that, if they know VMware use that.

Odds are your university is running Active Directory, System Center products, and Configuration Manager in production already so there is a Microsoft institutional knowledge.

Server 2012 Datacenter licenses for Academia are pretty inexpensive so there's a strong financial incentive to run MS and not have to buy additional licenses for every VM you spin up.

Like I said in my comment, Neither Dreamspark nor VMware Academic Program licenses can be used for production environments. You will still need to buy MS licenses for your production servers but they are dirt cheap.

For Academia Microsoft licensing is significantly less expensive than VMware licenses, especially since you also need to fork out major cash for VMware Support & Maintenance if you want to have access to VMware version upgrades.

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