If you’ve gone through the comparison of Cloud vs Virtualization, and decided that Virtualization is the best fit for you – you’re still not done. The next step is deciding which hypervisor to use for your virtualization. If a significant portion of your environment is Windows, then your primary choices are VMware or Hyper-V.
Comparing VMware and Hyper-V is less of a “which is better” question than a “which would be better for you?” You can start by looking at a Hypervisor comparison chart, and while that might narrow the differences between the two, it will not rule one out unless you need to run an OS specific to VMware or Hyper-V.
Considerations when choosing between VMware and Hyper-V include:
- Which operating systems do your Virtual Machines (VMs) need to run?
If you’re mostly Windows, with a few Linux installs, either will work for you. If you need to support a wide variety of operating systems on your VMs, VMware has much more breadth – see the Hypervisor comparison chart for more details.
- Hardware compatibility
If you’ve already got a significant investment in server hardware, it makes sense to continue to use as much of that hardware as possible for Virtualization hosts. VMware’s Compatibility Guide provides a search that will let you enter your existing server, and tell you which versions of VMware are supported. Got a Dell PowerEdge T110? You should be able to run ESXi 5.5 on it.
Hyper-V is installed on Windows 2008 or Windows 2012 and it has the same basic installation requirements as the OS. Installing the Hyper-V role does require additional processor support for virtualization. Microsoft also maintains a Windows Server Catalog to identify servers that are compatible with Windows 2012 and Hyper-V.
- Ease of use
Hands-on comparison of VMware and Hyper-V are often biased due to the loyalties and experiences of the reviewer. Additionally, updates to management tools and version capabilities change frequently – for example, one major complaint about the free ESXi 5.1 hypervisor was that it was limited to 32 GB memory – as of 5.5, that limitation has been removed. So, keep those factors in mind when you read through the following sample of hypervisor comparisons:
Hyper-V 2012 versus VMWare vSphere 5
Real Hyper-V vs. VMware comparison: What you actually get for free
Setting up your Hacking Playground – VMWare vs HyperV
Hyper-V R2eality: VMs not so hot after all…
Most reviewers find it easier to implement complex virtualization features with VMware, and these features tend to work better with VMware – provided you’ve paid for the VMware licenses and you’re running on supported hardware. Hyper-V wins points for a wider range of supported hardware, and the ability to configure advanced features without requiring license fees – but it may not be able to do everything VMware does and is more difficult to configure.
In our next post, we’ll take a look at how costs for VMware and Hyper-V compare – including the free editions of both, and what you get when you pay for the licenses.