Hyper-V: Is it there yet?

DataCenterVirtualizationFor a good portion of the time I have been working in the virtualization space, there has been plenty of hype about how it is just a matter of time before Microsoft “leapfrogs” ahead of VMware in the area of virtualization and with the massive upgraded version of Hyper-V 3.0 that will ship with Windows Server 8, there is thought that Microsoft might just pull off that upset.  So in classic Microsoft style, let’s take a look and compare VMware today (ESX/vSphere5) with what Microsoft will have with Hyper-V 3.0 sometime possibly in the “Fall” of 2012.I started to create my own graph to compare the different features of both products and during my research I found a great graph that was created by a fellow vExpert Marcel van den Berg that does a great side by side comparison that was much better than the table I was pointing together.  The original graphic and Marcel’s point of view can be found here and with Marcel’s permission I have the graph below.

vsphere5 versus hyper v3 02

Looking at the chart you can see that Microsoft is making leaps and bounds with Hyper-V and from the chart, Hyper-V is presenting itself to be pretty much equivalent with vSphere5.  Looks pretty impressive doesn’t?

Let’s add some perspective to this comparison…

Microsoft has a great marketing department that can be rated second to none.   Microsoft is well known for marketing the new technology that “will be coming” with any new product they release. Microsoft’s marketing plan has backfired on them before and has had to back pedal when announced features did not make the general release.

This is comparing apples to oranges in my opinion.  vSphere 5 has been released for just under six months, at the time of this writing, and has already had updates released.  It is a very stable release that is full of advanced features to help create a complete infrastructure. Hyper-V 3 has not been released yet and is not expected until around October or Fall 2012 and that is if Hyper-V3 makes the release date without getting pushed back at all.  There will not be a complete list of features and advancements until the change lock on any code changes are put in place for the general release.  A lot can change over the next six to nine months and only time.

I get the feeling that Microsoft really wants to go head to head with VMware for the Enterprise, but is developing specific features that are really geared towards the SMB marketplace.  The Storage Migration feature with Hyper-V does not require shared storage to work and this really makes me think that Microsoft may really start to keep their eye on the SMB market place.   Although VMware has presented this ability via the VMware Storage Appliance (VSA) so you cannot really consider this something new on Microsoft’s side.

There are a couple of really good things that will come from Microsoft advancement in the Virtualization/Cloud space. Microsoft has focused on keeping the costs of Hyper-V to be relatively low in comparison to like featured versions from VMware. This big difference in price might push VMware to reconsider its pricing in general.  What changes they will make, remains to be seen.  If I were to take a guess I would think VMware would concentrate on development and release of new products that VMware can license separately.  This would leave VMware in a position to match Microsoft somewhat in price schedule and still seek a premium on the advanced technology that Microsoft does not have yet.

There is a large amount of support for VMware in the way of 3rd party application and I am just not quite seeing the same support level for Microsoft as of yet.  Things are really starting to change in that aspect as companies like Veeam are making the push to support both VMware and Microsoft.  As more and more 3rd party products become available for Hyper-V, this should really help Microsoft in gaining a stronger foothold.

There are a lot of things, like hot-add CPU, that keeps VMware a few leaps ahead of Microsoft but Microsoft is closing the gap.  The gap is not closing as fast as the Microsoft Marketing team would like you to believe but then again, why in the world are we comparing a six month old product with one that has not even been released yet?  Well, that is because of the way the Microsoft Marketing Team rolls. The bottom line is that by the time Hyper-V3 gets released you have to really wonder how much longer it will be before vSphere6 will be released?

Microsoft is doing great things but, in my opinion, still have a pretty big gap to close. When you really look from a high altitude, to see the total infrastructure view within all the products, it is still quite clear who is still the current undefeated virtual champion.

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Steve Beaver
Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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16 thoughts on “Hyper-V: Is it there yet?”

  1. Several random points:

    1. How come “In guest fiber HBA support” is blank for vSphere 5?

    2. One must not forget about the ecosystem. More vendors support vSphere today.

    3. You mentioned it above well, but it cannot be over-emphasized that you are comparing a system that has been shipping for months to a system that won’t be out the door for over six months. The chart would be even *better* if there was a separate column comparing Hyper-V 2.0. Microsoft is probably doing handsprings that a non-shipping version is being compared to a shipping version of a competitors.

    4. As you noted, the Storage Migration that doesn’t require a SAN will be intriguing for small businesses. Does the VSA allow migration without a SAN?


  2. Thanks Lars!!

    Mr X. Thanks for your comments… AS I mentioned in the post there is no real comparision when you consider the entire infrastruture and Microsoft has a ways to go to catch up in that area. Again you are right by there is no real comparision about a product that is out with a product that will “soon goto beta” but since Microsoft loves to run marketing that way and all the comparision that I found were done that way. Last point about the VSA appliance. Yes it will let local storage be seen as shared storage and will allow migrations. My main point was VMware already has this technology and it is not some new thing Microsoft is bring to the table.

    Thanks again for the comments

  3. This just solidifies what I’ve long seen as a large VMware bias on this site which is too bad. competition is healthy for the industry and this article seems to be written solely to bash the next version of hyper-v 3 which appears to be pretty amazing by everything I’ve read and by the developer preview I got at the build conference. I then checked the author who’s a VMware consultant and likely has a vested interest in promoting vmware. It’s a shame because we need some more honest discussion not just recycling VMware press. maybe i’ll keep reading for texiwill, but that’s about all.

  4. Hello Rob,

    I am sorry you feel my post was bias and your right competition is healthy and good for all. I have great respect for Microsoft as a company. I want to present where I did most of my research for this post.


  5. Hello Rob A,
    I have read the post of Steve a couple of times but cannot find any bias. On the features Hyper-V 3.0 comes pretty close to vSphere but it lacks enterprise features like distributed virtual switches, Fault Tolerance, Storage IO Control, vShield Endpoint etc. If you have worked with both Hyper-V AND VMware you must be able to see the difference in features. This does not mean Hyper-V is bad, it is just for a different market.
    Besides features which can be compared pretty unbiased, also the ecosystem (third party solutions) for vSphere is much larger. There are three mature Disaster Recovery Solutions for vSphere. How many for Hyper-V? The same applies for many other solutions like for chargeback, performance monitoring etc.

  6. Pingback: Virtual Intelligence Briefing » New – well forgotten old. Almost…: Hyper-V vs vSphere: new …
  7. vmware’s downfall can be summed up in two words, “vram entitlement”. RIP vmware, it was fun while it lasted…

  8. David, I have thought the same thing and will withold my opinion until ESX 6 comes out and we get really see the direction VMware will take this. I hope we are wrong and we will just have to wait and see.

  9. I stumbled upon this article while doing research to determine if we should migrate away from VMWare ESXi. The reason we are considering is that we are more and more running into the restrictions of the free version of VMWare, and the cost of licensing in our scenario is pretty insane. We are a non-profit organization and are eligible for educational pricing for both VMWare and Microsoft and about half of our current host hardware was originally sourced to be used as physical machines, so has low resource availability. We decided to virtualize anyway to take advantage of some of the DR features virtualization brings to the table – specifically snapshots and the ability to back up the complete machine and restore to different hardware. Unfortunately, we have now found that VMWare have disabled the ability to do the second half of that process in their free versions from 4.0 forward. Microsoft, on the other hand, provides all the functionality we need in their free version, with the exception of live migration (which is supposedly supported, but does not seem to be possible in the current release without using SCVMM). The only downside to me, at present, is that the current iteration of Hyper-V is less polished than ESXi, especially when it comes to things like network teaming (which in Hyper-V can only be done using third party drivers, as far as I can tell) and possibly in regards to multi-path IO (Though I have to test his further; suffice to say that LUNs presented through two redundant SAS connections to the out of the box install of Hyper-V show up twice in the disk manager).

    Do you happen to know of a good comparison of the free versions of Hyper-V and ESXi, primarily discussing the features that are required by the average SMB? All this talk of the enterprise features is great, but without including the cost of entry for these features, it’s hard to make a good, well rounded comparison.

  10. Unfortunately, people are making it more about marketing than features and functionality. I agree that Microsoft maybe closing the gap, but let’s try this comparison again after the release of Hyper V 3.

    And since everyone loves to buy futures, I can get you a good deal on vSphere 7 or an iPAD 5. Just make out a non-refundable deposit of $1,000 made out to C.A.S.H. and send it to me. 😀

  11. Just an couple of corrections to your research.

    1. Live migration works with and without shared storage in RC and RTM version of Windows server 2012 no SCVMM needed.
    2. Multipath IO has been an OS feature since Windows server 2008 R2, you just need to configure it.
    3. In windows Server 2012 the only way to team NICs is via OS. You can team up to 32 different NICs from different vendors from GUI or Powershell (even LACP). This has been working since RC version.


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