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September 5, 2006
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October 5, 2006

MOSS 2007 B2TR Virtual Development Environments. To MS or VM: That is the question

To MS, or VM: that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to shell out the cash for extra memory and an external hard disk,
Or to take your desktop and turn it into a development server, and by doing so save money.

Wow, I believe my high school teacher who taught me about Hamlet will retract my diploma if he ever reads this.

This post is not actually about Hamlet, it’s about choosing a virtualization technology. Now that MS and VMWare both offer free virtualization products, developers have two options to choose from when it comes to virtual development environments.

On the Internet you can find many blog posts and articles about how these two technologies stack up in relation to one another. All the benchmarks I have found on the Internet show the results of programs like SiSoftware Sandra, or other system benchmarking utilities. However, I have not found any benchmarks specifically geared to MOSS 2007 development, and the tasks performed during development.

So, I put on my Don King afro and acted like a fight promoter to set up a battle between the two technologies. The battle would be played by my rules, so I could learn first-hand which technology is better suited to host a virtual SharePoint development environment.

First, a little disclaimer. I am not being paid to write this article. I don’t have a vendetta against either company. The results I am posting here may vary depending on your hardware setup. Etc.

Bottom line: I performed this analysis because I wanted to determine which technology was faster.

The benchmarks I am posting here reflect the day to day activities of a SharePoint developer. I tried to pick common tasks to benchmark, not minutia.

The contenders (Rocky vs. Apollo would be a lot more exciting, but they are way to cool to play with computers!):

MS Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise Edition vs. VMWare Server 1.0.1

To level the playing field I started with a MS VPC virtual development environment and converted it to the VMWare format. By doing this I was able to use identical virtual machines for the tests. I used the VMWare P2V Assistant 2.1.1 to convert the image. The image I converted is 11GB in size, and the conversion process took about 3 hours.

Virtualized development machine specifications (Guest Machine):

Windows 2003 Server R2 – Standard Edition
Domain Controller
Application Server
SQL Server 2005 – Standard Edition
MOSS 2007 B2TR
VS.NET 2005 Team Edition for Software Architects
SharePoint Designer B2TR
Office 2007 B2TR

Memory allocated to virtual machine: 850MB

The arena (Host Machine):

HP Pavilion ZD8000
P4 3.4 GHz HT Processor
USB 2.0 External Hard Disk – 7200RPM 16MB Cache

Operating System: Windows XP Pro

The battle (The tasks were performed in identical and sequential order in both virtualization technologies.):

It’s easy to see that VMWare wins the battle in the MOSS 2007 virtual development image benchmark battle.

Here’s a cool chart to help you visualize the data a little better:

Now, let’s start analyzing the data a bit to see what kind of impact this would have over the course of a MOSS 2007 developer’s typical week, and month. I put together a chart to help demonstrate. Values in the following chart are expressed in seconds, unless otherwise noted.

After analyzing the data, it’s easy to see that VMWare saves you a good amount of time – time you would have just spent sitting around and waiting for your computer.

You may be wondering how I came up with the numbers in the “# of times event occurs weekly” column, so I put together a little chart to explain why I used the numbers I did.

I don’t know about you, but now I know which virtualization technology I plan to use for my SharePoint virtual development environment the statistics speak for themselves.

According to the Bill Gates Wealth Index, Bill Gates earns $300.00 per second. So, if you were Bill Gates, the time you saved in a week with VMWare would be worth $400,800.00, and the time you saved in a month would be worth $1,603,200.00. Amazing statistics aren’t they? It’s kind of ironic that I put that statistic in here, because without Bill, this blog probably wouldn’t exist, you wouldn’t be interested in reading it, and most likely, and I’d be a ski patroller.

The ski lifts open in 31 days!