Hyper-V vs VMware vSphere, Which Solution Is Right for You?

When it comes to IT planning and budgeting, you want to make sure you are getting the best return on your investment. With this in mind, we created this Hyper-V vs VMware vSphere comparison to help you determine which hypervisor is right for you and your environment.

There’s little need to question whether virtualization is one of the biggest IT trends today. Gartner continues to report that more than half of all server workloads are virtualized. By 2020, virtualization will account for 98 percent of IT growth spend. This increased spend in virtualization will provide more efficient, cost-effective ways to reduce downtime, gain IT productivity, increase hardware savings, and so much more.

Whether your organization already has major investment cloud computing, or is about to move forward with a first-time migration, it might be critical for you to stop and consider the extent of the role of hypervisor systems in your environments.

Both VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual platforms have become fairly comparable in a number of respects, each one represents a different set of advantages and disadvantages. We explore those here by directly comparing Hyper-V and VMware vSphere.

VMM Architectures

Both VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V implement server virtualization with a Type 1 VMM architecture. The products we are considering here represent two of the design subcategories in this architecture: Monolithic Hypervisor and Microkernelized Hypervisor.

A Look at VMware vSphere

VMware offers an array of solutions for virtual systems, but we focus only on vSphere in this article. vSphere uses a Monolithic Hypervisor Design, in which the device drivers are an integral part of the Hypervisor Layer.

A big vSphere advantage is its independence, since an operating system isn’t necessary to control all of the virtualization components. Also, no security patches are necessary for the Controlling Layer components. Out of the box, vSphere offers many governance capabilities, and organization can leverage transparent page sharing.

One disadvantage is the steep learning curve (for many users). But perhaps the worst is the fact that you can’t run vSphere on unsupported hardware—though VMware does provide a list of compatible hardware. Also, more initialization time is necessary because device drivers initialize in the hypervisor layer of the architecture. Any corrupt code in this layer can cause the initialization to slow down, or even cause the server to hang or crash.

VMware Advantages

  • No operating system is necessary for controlling the management components
  • No security patches necessary for Controlling Layer components
  • Excellent vendor support
  • Out-of-the-box governance feature set
  • Available AWS apps

VMware Disadvantages

  • Incompatibility with hardware that VMware doesn’t support
  • Complex device drivers will slow the initialization time
  • Steep learning curve
  • Corrupt external code may slow initialization or hang a server
  • Trial software missing functionality

How Does Hyper-V Compare?

Microsoft Hyper-V is capable of helping many companies build a private cloud, virtualize workloads, and scale public cloud services. Hyper-V is an integral part of Windows Server, but it is also installable separately as a standalone Hyper-V Server.

Hyper-V is built on a microkernalized design, so the device drivers run and operate independently in Controlling Layer. These components are built into the Controlling Layer:

  • Storage migration
  • NTFS and SMB file systems
  • Live/quick Migration
  • Hyper-V Replica

The Hypervisor Layer is independently, and contains both the Network Stack and Storage Stack. Similar to monolithic design of VMware, the Hardware Layer includes the Physical Network and Storage Devices.

For most administrators with experience with Microsoft products, Hyper-V has an easier learning curve. Perhaps the best advantage is the how little effort is necessary to manage device drivers, since new devices can be added without drivers—which means that a wide range of devices can be used with Hyper-V. Any device drivers that are necessary are installed directly into the operating system that is running in the Controlling Layer. These drivers are then accessible by virtual machines to access the hardware.

In Hyper-V, it only takes a few minutes to install and deploy new server roles outside of the server virtualization role is possible to do within a few minutes. Also, since the Microsoft hypervisor code is only 600 kB in size, initialization takes less time.

Unlike vSphere, there is no risk of corrupt code injection into the Hypervisor Layer, since Microsoft doesn’t expose any APIs for that layer. In many respects, maintenance is much easier, since there is no downtime, backups are quick and easy, and you can perform live migrations.

Hyper-V does have a few notable disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is the fact that the OS must be installed into the Controlling Layer before running the Hypervisor Layer. If this OS crashes, all other VMs will also crash. Also, frequent Windows OS and security updates are necessary—which requires more management. There is more OS overhead necessary for managing communications among all VMs, and with the Hypervisor Layer.

Hyper-V Advantages:

  • Minimal device driver management
  • Wide range of compatible devices
  • Easy to install new server roles
  • Shorter initialization time
  • High resilience to corrupt externals code
  • Zero downtime to perform maintenance or apply security updates
  • Readily scalable services

Hyper-V Disadvantages:

  • A crash of the primary OS will crash all VMs
  • OS must be installed before Hypervisor Layer can operate
  • Frequent OS and security updates translates into more overhead
  • Minimal support for service templates

Conclusion

It’s important that you consider all the basic benefits of virtualization before exploring and comparing these two products. Both Hyper-V and vSphere have acquired a broad following, and many organization have come to depend on these solutions.

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