Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 from a vSphere lovers perspective.


Microsoft is making claims that Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 is the best virtualization platform for Windows. I have to say that they have caught my interest with Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V version 3 and Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) 2012. So I have been hard at work getting deep into the products, first by updating all my lab systems. Unfortunately Windows Server 2012 is not in general release yet so all my setup and testing is being done with the release candidate and/or technical preview software. In saying this, you can’t really compare the software solutions to the current release versions of VMware vSphere, vCenter Server, etc as I may tend to do. And if you don’t know, VMWorld 2012 is right around the corner and I expect there to be additional product updates. Especially since VMware has been an industry leader and innovator in this space for many years now.

Let’s skip past the details of the features that one or the other offers and outline my findings and my opinions of Hyper-V. The first thing most people will ask is whether Hyper-V better than vSphere? Well the answer is “Yes” and “No”. I would still say that I like vSphere better but that’s because I’m a bit bias having used it for so long. But I do see the great potential that is to be had by implementing Hyper-V and System Center VMM, especially for enterprise clients that are primarily using Microsoft Windows Server along with System Center solutions.

Here’s what I think so far about what Microsoft is bringing to bare for virtualization.

CONS:

  • I found Hyper-V to be a bit more complex to configure some of the features that vSphere seems to make really simple like High Availability (HA) which requires the Failover Clustering feature.
  • There are features that I haven’t found yet in Hyper-V like Enhanced vMotion to aid in dong Live Migrations between different processor families.
  • I did not see a comparable solution to Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) or Storage DRS. These are two features that yield great returns by automatically balancing VM workloads across multiple host resources using vMotion and Storage vMotion.
  • There’s a lot going on with SCVMM which mean you have a bit to wrap your head around. But some may say the same thing about vCenter.

PROS:

  • My first Pro is the last Con. There is a lot going on with SCVMM. While it was a little overwhelming once you do get your head wrap around it you’ll see that you can do more than just server virtualization. You can build a private cloud with self service and all. VMware offers vCloud Director which is a separate solution with additional licensing and cost.
  • With Datacenter Edition of Windows Server gives you can virtualize an unlimited number of virtual machines. This also includes the virtual machines operating system licenses if your running Windows Server. VMware can’t even offer that since Microsoft owns the OS.
  • If your already licensed to use System Center 2012 you will get SCVMM and more at no additional cost. This is because Microsoft has decided to bundle many of the management products and change their licensing model. More details can be found here. If you have a previous version of the management software an upgrade path could be available and worth it giving the additional software you’ll gain.
  • Oh and I can’t forget the fact that SCVMM will let you use Hyper-V, vSphere, and Citrix virtualization host servers as platforms to build on. This is not available with vCenter since it only supports managing VMware virtualization hosts.

The new version of Windows Hyper-V does not have 100% feature parity with VMware vSphere 5 and vCenter combo but you get so much those additional features might not matter much. Microsoft is clearly going to give VMware some serious competition when it’s released.