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Corey Roth [MVP]

A SharePoint MVP bringing you the latest time saving tips for SharePoint 2013, Office 365 / SharePoint Online and Visual Studio 2013.

Will Virtualization die in SharePoint 2010 development?

This is already starting to be an interesting topic, so I wanted to post about it.  We’ll start with the facts.

  1. SharePoint 2010 only runs on 64 bit operating systems
  2. In the past, SharePoint developers have pretty much always had to develop in a virtual environment
  3. Windows Virtual PC does not support 64 bit guests but other non-Microsoft virtualization technologies do
  4. SharePoint 2010 can run on Windows 7 / Vista x64
  5. Most developers do not want to run a server OS on their development machine
  6. Some developers may still be running 32 bit operating systems (ack!)

So what does this mean?  For some reason, Microsoft has not given us desktop virtualization software that can run 64 bit guests (even though Hyper-V can).  So I think this left Microsoft a choice.  Get 64 bit guests added to Windows Virtual PC, recommend developers use a non-Microsoft virtualization technology, or get SharePoint working on Windows 7 and Vista.  Now, adding 64 bit support I am sure is quite an undertaking and they definitely don’t want to recommend a competitor’s product.  This means that making SharePoint work directly on the developer’s machine the obvious choice.  After all it runs on top of IIS and IIS is pretty similar between Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Vista (yes, I do know there are differences).

Now, I think it will be interesting to see what path developers choose here.  Many developers I am sure probably already were using another virtualization software such as VMWare.  For them, they are pretty much unaffected and will probably continue to developer in their VM.  By now, I think most SharePoint developers have it engrained in them that they must develop on a VM, but maybe they will change their mind.  People are so accustomed to thinking that development must be done in a VM, I hear them asking not when the beta 2 install will be available, but when will the VM be available?  My answer is always well even if you have a VM, you aren’t going to be able to run it unless you are running Hyper-V or it was made with VMware.

Personally, I think I like the idea of running SharePoint on my laptop.  I lose some flexibility that the VM gives me but I also gain some convenience of not having to maintain multiple versions of Visual Studio and what not.  Will it affect performance of my laptop?  Absolutely, but that just gives me a chance to ask for better hardware. :)  Of course, if you are in a company where you have little control of your hardware, getting upgraded to Windows 7 x64 could be an issue.

UPDATE: @spmcdonough reminded me in a comment about booting a VHD natively with Windows 7.  This option was actually brought up in the Patterns & Practices talk at SPC.  They of course did not mention any competing virtualization solutions. :)  It certainly is a way to get some good VHD performance by running the operating system natively.  This may be a good option for some people but probably not for me.  I don’t want to have to leave everything behind in my Client OS while I am doing my development.  Sure you could install all the various things that you use from your client environment onto that VHD but then aren’t you just replacing your client OS with a server OS?  It is an interesting option though.  It may not work for me, but it might for some.  Although I have to say I might consider it if I had a second machine available.

UPDATE (01/04/2010): So Beta 2 has been out for a while and I have actually tried a number of options.  I started out trying VMWare Server running on my Windows 7 laptop.  I was still looking for a free option.  This worked ok, but not great.  Since VMWare Server is designed for servers, it has no issues about taking every available resource on your machine for your VMs whether it needs it or not.  This made going back to the host machine just to check Outlook or visit a web site somewhat painful.  Adding more memory helped, but it still wasn’t ideal.  So I decided to try Sun VirtualBox.  The first thing I liked about it was the fact that I was able to take my VMWare hard disk file and boot it directly with VirtualBox without going through any type of conversion process.  It just worked.  I tried it with several VMs and it really does work great.  The performance of the VM also feels a bit better and my host machine still has plenty of resources left to do whatever I need it to.  If you are looking for a free option and don’t feel like dual booting, I definitely recommend giving VirtualBox a try.

So what do you think you are going to do?   Are you going to install it locally on your Windows 7 machine?  Go with VMware?  Install Windows Server 2008 on your laptop maybe?  Quit SharePoint development? :)  There are pros and cons to each approach.  I’d love to hear your plan.  Leave a comment and tell us your plan.

Comments

 

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October 30, 2009 1:59 PM
 

Sean McDonough said:

I was at the conference (SPC), but some of what I heard was difficult to follow or even contradictory with regard to the development experience.  Thanks for putting this article together, Cory, and for clearing up a few things for me.

I've been an "MS guy" forever, but truth be told, I'll continue developing inside of VMware Workstation.  I followed VirtualPC as far as it would take me, but it hasn't been a viable option for my work for some time.  VMware Workstation works well, has all the nice little extras, and (most importantly) gives me the isolation I need between my host OS and my development guest.

I looked at all the prerequisites and extra stuff I'd need to develop right on top of Win7, and I just can't see myself "junking up" my host.  With a number of different clients and environmental needs, being able to work in VMs is a real benefit to me.  I'm willing to pay the small performance penalty for the "cleanliness" and isolation.  Adding in things like snapshots and mobility (V2V or V2P) also helps.

For some, though, I know that VMs are seen as a negative -- not a benefit.  For those folks, I think installing right onto Win7 is the answer to many of their questions.  Regardless of the route folks choose, their dev options are much better this time around!

October 30, 2009 2:13 PM
 

CoreyRoth said:

I have to agree about not wanting to junk up your main machine.  Virtualization really does have its benefits in that regard.  Even if I do go a virtualization route, I may still have it installed locally, because sometimes I just need to try something real quick in SharePoint or I need a screenshot or something.  It would be nice not to have to fire up a VM in that regard.

I've been using Virtual PC for a while, not necessarily by choice but as that was available.  I've been thinking about trying out Sun Virtualbox and I have heard good and bad things about it.  @givenscj says it works pretty good and it does support 64 bit guests, so I think that probably warrants giving it a try.

October 30, 2009 2:25 PM
 

Sean McDonough said:

If you think of it, Corey, please share your experiences with Virtualbox.  A couple of the guys on my team are also looking at it and poking at it with sticks, but I don't have any good intel from them just yet.

If nothing else, I'm glad that we (as developers) have a number of options available to us with the 2010 release -- native boot VHDs in Win7, virtualization products, or installing straight onto the OS.  Everyone works differently, and it looks like we're finally at a point where there are enough options to accomodate the different methodologies and paths used in the development process.  Amen  :-)

October 30, 2009 2:50 PM
 

Jeremy Thake said:

Great post mate, I'm sure you've seen my opinions on this so far. I've added you to the SPDevWiki page on building a SP2010 dev environment too.

wss.made4the.net/.../sharepoint-2010-is-one-greedy-beast%E2%80%A6and-will-block-adoption.aspx

wss.made4the.net/.../factors.aspx

October 30, 2009 10:05 PM
 

Regs said:

Windows 2008 R2 isnt actually that bad as a desktop OS.  All our developers are using it along with hyper-v.  It means that a Virtual Machine is also portable from the 'desktop' to the server too.  Check out the following site for tips on how to 'desktopize' your win2k8r2 install www.win2008r2workstation.com

October 31, 2009 12:59 AM
 

uberVU - social comments said:

This post was mentioned on Twitter by coreyroth: #SharePoint Post: Will Virtualization die in SharePoint 2010 development? http://bit.ly/40Iwrd

October 31, 2009 11:12 AM
 

Will Virtualization die in SharePoint 2010 development? – Corey … | VirtualizationDir - Top Virtualization Providers, News and Resources said:

Pingback from  Will Virtualization die in SharePoint 2010 development? – Corey … | VirtualizationDir - Top Virtualization Providers, News and Resources

November 1, 2009 4:25 AM
 

SharePoint Daily said:

Top News Stories Will Virtualization Die in SharePoint 2010 Development? (Dot Net Mafia) This is already

November 2, 2009 8:05 AM
 

Ray Ranson said:

A conundrum for sure, but at least there are more options. Although, I heard that a VPC build is forthcoming to support 32-bit host and 64-bit SharePoint dev image with Win2k8. (Host BIOS change to support virtualization is needed as well) I use VMWare Workstation and I posted a build guide to demonstrate an alternative:  www.ranson.us/.../Post.aspx

November 2, 2009 12:22 PM
 

Aravind said:

Sun Virtualbox works good on my Vista 32 bit which is hosting the 64 bit guests( A Windows server 2008 & Ubuntu 64 bit server). This requires the processor should support Intel VT and it should be enabled in BIOS.

Virtual box is worth a try.

November 4, 2009 12:34 AM
 

Tristan Watkins said:

We've opted for Hyper-V, noting that this is a contentious issue, even internally.

The major benefit of virtualisation for us is that we can use identical virtual environments that are network-isolated, which is a big consistency gain and configuration efficiency for SharePoint team development. In short, the main benefits as I see it are export/import, snapshots and that Hyper-V is effectively free is you're already running a server OS. Obviously there are issues with graphics performance and a few other things, but they're not compelling enough at present to sacrifice the benefits of working with snapshot and import/export by reverting back to native development. While many of these things obtain with VMWare as well, the license costs are hard to justify for us when the only 100% clear gain is graphics performance.

I've been spelling these design choices our in a lot more detail in my blog recently if you're interested: tristanwatkins.com

November 12, 2009 7:36 PM
 

Really Sad said:

After years of trying to fight to good fight (of sticking up for Virtual PC and Hyper-V) this was the straw that broke the camels back.

VMWare is the solution. Simple as that.

Microsoft has dropped the ball.

"Developers, Developers, Developers"

perhaps not

November 16, 2010 10:09 PM
 

NothingButSharePoint.com said:

Pingback from  NothingButSharePoint.com

December 5, 2014 9:18 PM

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About CoreyRoth

Corey Roth is an independent SharePoint consultant specializing in ECM, Apps, and Search.
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