Virtualization Software Comparison: VMware vSphere vs. Microsoft Hyper-V

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To keep pace with today’s increasing storage and processing demands, many enterprises must deploy multiple servers, each running at a fraction of their capacity. This results in excessive operating costs and huge inefficiencies. This is where virtualization comes into the frame.

Virtualization software simulates hardware functionality and creates a virtual computer system, called a virtual machine (VM). A VM is an independent, tightly isolated software container with an operating system (OS) and application inside.

 Virtualization enables enterprises to run more than one VM and multiple OSs and applications on a single server, resulting in greater efficiency and economies of scale. Virtualization software dynamically allocates hardware resources to each VM as needed. In essence, using virtualization you can make use of the full capacity of computing resources. 

The key properties of VMs include:

  • Partitioning
  • Isolation
  • Encapsulation
  • Hardware independence

What are the Benefits of Virtualization?

Here are the benefits of virtualization:

  • Significantly reduces capital and operating costs.
  • Minimizes or eliminates downtime.
  • Increases information technology (IT) efficiency, productivity, agility and responsiveness.
  • Enables faster provisioning of resources and applications.
  • Provides disaster recovery and greater business continuity.
  • Simplifies data center management.

In this guide, we will explore all you should know about VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.

Also read: Virtualization Software Comparison: IBM PowerVM vs Oracle VM VirtualBox

VMware vSphere Overview

VMware vSphere is VMware’s server virtualization platform that transforms data centers — including storage systems, servers and networking resources — into aggregated computing infrastructures.

The hypervisor manages these infrastructures in a merged operating environment and provides you with the tools to oversee the data centers that take part in that operating environment.

The core components of VMware vSphere are ESXi and vCenter Server. ESXi is the platform where you create and run VMs and virtual appliances. vCenter Server is the service through which you administer multiple hosts connected in a network and pool their resources. VMware vSphere 7.0 is the latest iteration of VMware’s server virtualization platform.

 VMware vSphere features

 Here are the principal features of VMware vSphere:

  • With built-in VM management, you can create and provision your VMs in minutes, by specifying the amount of memory, number of CPUs and the network interfaces and disks you need.
  • Advanced memory resourcing allows you to overcommit memory resources and perform page compression and sharing to optimize performance.
  • You can allocate your storage resources beyond the scope of the physical storage.
  • Driver hardening ensures high reliability and optimal performance.
  • Through vCenter Server, you can centrally manage multiple hosts and pool host storage and computing resources.
  • You can perform the live migration of VMs.
  • You can take advantage of restore capabilities, advanced backup, business continuity and automatic load balancing for VMs. vCenter High Availability (vCenter HA) and vSphere Fault Tolerance (vSphere FT) provide business continuity.
  • You can import hundreds of virtual appliances from the Solution Exchange.
  • Lifecycle Manager simplifies and centralizes lifecycle management, by making firmware updates, patching and maintenance of software upgrades easier and less disruptive.
  • You can scale without compromise to support more hosts per cluster and meet the demands of monster VMs, high-performance applications, and memory-intensive databases.
  • You can use vSphere with Tanzu to run Kubernetes workloads locally on the hypervisor layer by configuring a vSphere cluster as a Supervisor Cluster. Within the Supervisor Cluster, you can create Supervisor Namespaces and configure them with dedicated storage, CPU and memory.
  • VMware vSphere’s use cases include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), remote and branch offices (ROBO), big data and modern data applications, and high performance computing (HPC). 
  • VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus includes all vSphere features and is available for $5,968.36 per license with Production-level support (24/7 technical support) for a duration of three years.

Also read: Virtualization Software Comparison: Nutanix AHV vs. Citrix Hypervisor

Microsoft Hyper-V Overview

Microsoft Hyper-V in Windows and Windows Server replaces older virtualization products like Windows Virtual PC, Microsoft Virtual Server, and Microsoft Virtual PC. The hypervisor offers enhanced storage, performance, networking and security features. The virtualization software supports emulated and Hyper-V-specific devices for Linux VMs.

Hyper-V runs each VM in an isolated space. This means that you can run more than one VM on the same hardware simultaneously. Hyper-V is available as a downloadable, standalone server product as well – Microsoft Hyper-V Server.  

Microsoft Hyper-V Features

The main features of Microsoft Hyper-V are:

  •  Hyper-V can help you move to or expand the use of shared resources and flexibly adjust resource utilization as demand changes.
  • You can consolidate workloads and servers onto lesser, more powerful physical computers to use your hardware resources more effectively.
  • The hypervisor helps improve business continuity, as it minimizes the impact of scheduled and unscheduled downtime of workloads.
  • Using a centralized desktop strategy with virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) can help you increase data security and business agility. It will also help you manage desktop OSs and applications and simplify regulatory compliance.
  • You can deploy Hyper-V in combination with Remote Desktop Virtualization Host (RD Virtualization Host) on the same server to make available to your users virtual desktop pools or personal virtual desktops.   
  • You can reproduce various computing environments. This makes testing and development more efficient.
  • Hyper-V Replica aids in disaster recovery, as it creates copies of VMs that can be stored in another physical location. You can restore a VM from the copy.
  • For backup, you can either make use of saved states or Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). You can create application-consistent backups for VSS-supported programs.
  • Hyper-V provides features like live migration, import/export and storage migration.
  • Each supported guest OS has a customized set of drivers and services, called integration services.  
  • The hypervisor includes a remote connection tool called Virtual Machine Connection (VMC) that gives you console access and enables you to see what’s going on in the guest even when the OS isn’t booted.
  • Shielded VMs and secure boot help protect VMs and their data against malware and other forms of attack.
  • Microsoft Hyper-V is a free, enterprise-class virtualization software. The hypervisor supports several versions of Windows, Windows Server and Linux distributions.  

Also read: Virtualization Software Comparison: Red Hat Virtualization vs. Proxmox VE

VMware vSphere vs Microsoft Hyper-V

We compiled a list of features and prepared a table to compare both virtualization software on a head-to-head basis: 

FeaturesVMware vSphereMicrosoft Hyper-V
Availability and Recoverability 
Automation and Scaling 
Interoperability (Data Center and Cloud) 
Customer Experience 
Pricing Flexibility 
Ease of Deployment
Overall Capability Score 

VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus is ideally suited to small-, mid- and large-sized organizations. The hypervisor lets you create and provision VMs in double-quick time, perform the live migration of VMs, manage numerous hosts and pool their resources and hyperscale.

The virtualization software ensures business continuity with vCenter HA and vSphere FT. Other features include advanced memory resourcing, drive hardening and streamlined and centralized lifecycle management.   

In terms of overall features, there is no beating VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus. That said, Microsoft Hyper-V offers greater pricing flexibility, ease of deployment and customer service. VMware vSphere provides broader support, especially for older OSs. Microsoft Hyper-V is a suitable alternative if you largely operate Windows VMs.

Carefully assess each solution and select one that suits your enterprise needs better.

Read next: Best Server Virtualization Software of 2021

Surajdeep Singh
Surajdeep Singh
Surajdeep Singh has been working as an IT and blockchain journalist since 2018. He is a contributor to publications including IT Business Edge, Enterprise Networking Planet & Smart Billions and works as a consultant at Drofa Communications Agency.

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