Hyper V vs. vSphere - an independent test
The great thing about being an independent technology company is that you can look at products and services objectively. In fact that’s what our customers want. They expect us, as an independent technology reseller, to make software and hardware recommendations, because they don’t have the time to check into the latest technologies.
At our headquarters, here in the lovely Leicestershire town of Market Harborough, we have a number of technology labs. This is where we build and test our services for customers. They also provide us with the resource to put new technologies through their paces, to see if they live up to their hype. This week we’ve been testing two of the market leading hypervisors.
What is a Hypervisor?
A hypervisor is a small piece of software that sits on a server. It is a key element to server virtualisation and put simply it enables us to run several virtual servers from the one physical server host.
For a brief, and better, explanation of what a hypervisor is check out our virtualisation video here. Also if you want to know if virtualisation could benefit you try out our Abtec Virtualisation RoI Calculator.
UK's Leading Hypervisors
There are four popular hypervisors in the market:
- VMWare – Vsphere
- Microsoft – HyperV
- Cirtix – XenServer
- Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Hypervisor
VMWare has the largest market share, and many users will testify that it is the easiest hypervisor to use. Over the last two years Microsoft has been pumping considerable sums into playing catch up with VMware.
Recently, we had a client who was adamant (minus the white stripe) that they wanted Microsoft Hyper V, so we took this as an opportunity to pit it against VMware, head to head. I’ll be honest we use VMware in our own environment, we are familiar with it, and we tend to recommend it to clients where it’s right for them. However, we set our own prejudices to one side to test one versus the other.
Hyper V versus VMWare – the results
After testing both hypervisors on the same architecture, at different times of course, here are our findings. Out of the box, they were both easy to install, we noticed that Hyper V was little but chubbier than vSphere, it also didn’t give us the option to boot from flash, which I think is pretty essential.
Here are the main features that we checked out. As you can see on the table below it looks like, for key features, vSphere is still ahead of Hyper V. There are fundamental features such as the migration of Virtual Machines (VM) between servers that are simply not supported as well as vSphere. Our lab engineers also found the user interface of vSphere much easier and more intuitive to use. For the equivalent features the engineers had to jump between three different control interfaces. Here’s how they stacked up against each other with features that we find important.
In short we can see that Microsoft is closing the hypervisor gap but we still think that VMware vSphere outperforms Hyper V. It will be interesting to see Microsoft’s latest hypervisor which is due for release late 2012.
|Distributed resource scheduling - Automatically load balances the virtual machines between hosts ||No* ||Yes |
|APIs for array integration - Allows hypervisor to offload common storage tasks to a compatible storage array. ||No ||Yes |
|“Storage vMotion” or MS equivalent - Enables the migration of VM disks between storage pools while the VM is powered on ||No ||Yes |
|Fault tolerance - Protects critical VMs in the event of a host failure. ||No ||Yes |
|Boot from flash - The ESXi hypervisor is a compact OS enabling it to boot from flash memory in the server. This means there is no requirement for mirrored disks or a RAID controller in the hosts. ||No ||Yes |
|Memory de-duplication and compression - ESXi supports advanced techniques to take advantage of RAM in each host which would otherwise be wasted. This typically allows for a 20% reduction in host/RAM quantity over Hyper-V. ||No* ||Yes |
|Site recovery manager - Offers a simple and structured way of migrating VMs between sites in a disaster recovery scenario. ||No* ||Yes |
*Microsoft to address in next Hyper V release - late 2012
More information about virtualisation
Virtualisation services from Abtec Network Systems