Microsoft Hyper-V vs VMware vSphere

The Virtualization comparison has been updated with the latest data:

Until 3 or 4 years ago we saw frenzied competition between hypervisor vendors such as Microsoft or VMware. Yes, Microsoft with Hyper-V took its time to be at the same level as VMware ESXi and vSphere. Today though one can argue that both products have achieved a very similar level of capability especially for the core features that consumers expect. So please don’t quote exotic features like hot-add CPU (which IMHO is a heresy) or Fault Tolerence, which comes with too many constraints to be widely implemented.

Of course there are still subtle differences and preferences. Many users like VMware’s intuitive HTML5 web GUI, others appreciate Microsoft ability to be first in supporting future-proof datacenter technologies such as RDMA, persistent memory and so on. But if we look at the core virtualization features realistically then Hyper-V and ESXi are by now almost at the same level. So one could assume this area is dead but interestingly today’s landscape is ‘invaded’ by new products like Nutanix AVH.

“New kids on the blog” – Nutanix AVH

Some vendors have even brought new hypervisor to the market, such as Nutanix with AHV but they seem late to the party compared to VMware ESXi or Microsoft Hyper-V right? So how is it that Nutanix is selling so much ‘Nutanix with AHV’ and why do backup vendors such as Veeam invest in this kind of technology?

Because my friends, while the hypervisor war might be over we are now witnessing the datacenter ecosystem war: The cloud race (could be a great title for a tv show). And believe it or not but specialized hypervisors that deliver very specific functions for various layers in this ecosystem have a great potential to provide differentiation.

Specialized or multi-purpose for the cloud

The Cloud is mainly a marketing term for ‘pay-as-you-go’ environments in a highly automated datacenter. To get to a highly automated datacenter, you want optimized software abstracting each component such as your storage or network. This is why these vendors are developing Software-Defined Datacenter software such as Microsoft Azure Stack HCI, VMware Cloud Foundation and … Nutanix AHV. So yes, this vendor started “late” but really starts at the opposite end of the spectrum – with a specialized rather than a multi-purpose hypervisor. Microsoft and VMware on the other hand “simply” started to develop a Software-Defined Storage solution on top of Hyper-V and VMware ESX. But it has become clear that customers are increasingly making vendor decisions for specific ecosystems and workloads.

The latest enhancements of Windows Server and VMware ESX primarily address the support for new components and the introduction of industry-new technology support. The hypervisors are mature enough for the vendors to focus on providing a complete cloud platform (public, private and hybrid). Of course, capable hypervisor(s) are at the heart of these platforms but client focus has shifted to creating highly automated cloud environments for short time-to-service, all to enable the delivery of workloads, not infrastructure.

Stay tuned

With the publication of this article, we have updated the Virtualization matrix with Hyper-V 2019. If you are interested in Hyper-V please also check the wider Microsoft ecosystem (which is a strength compared to other vendors). One can argue that Microsoft is the only (?) vendor to currently provide a public cloud, hybrid cloud infrastructure and private cloud solutions either with Azure Stack or Azure Stack HCI.

The hypervisor is dead – long live the hypervisor!

Romain Serre – WhatMatrix Product Consultant [Microsoft Technologies]

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