Thursday, January 24, 2013

VMware vs Microsoft: Who's the Rightful Virtualization King?

As the two leading virtualization platforms, VMware and Microsoft often get stacked up against each other. As a result, VMware’s vSphere 5.1 and Microsoft’s Hyper-V R3 are constantly being compared and tested to see whose technology comes out on top. Taking a look at some of the testing and research that’s been done in recent months, we feel pretty confident that we’re ready to answer the question of: who’s the real king of the virtualization realm?

As it turns out; VMware’s recent vSphere 5.1 release has given VMware the extra functionality and performance they needed to secure the crown.  One key enhancement is VMware’s enhanced live migration capability. With the new live migration capability, VMware vSphere 5.1 has eliminated one of the major hurdles tied to VM movement; they no longer need to share the same storage. This means that VM’s can be moved or replicated from one machine and storage space to another, even to foreign hosts (as long as they are licensed). 

Two other major improvements that the vSphere 5.1 release brought to the VMware virtualization platform include enhanced specs and a simplified licensing model. With vSphere 5.1, VMware now offers the ability to control SMP with a max of 64 processors or a 1TB VM. Also, since the vSphere 5.0 licensing model got a little confusing, VMware decided to simplify their licensing with vSphere 5.1 and eliminate any core count or vRam entitlement restrictions. Now it is licensed strictly by socket.

Some of the drawbacks of using Microsoft Hyper-V R3 versus VMware vSphere 5.1 are: Hyper-V R3 requires a Windows Server OS, while vSphere 5.1 doesn’t rely on a general-purpose OS; Hyper-V R3 is subject to unrelated Windows patching, while vSphere 5.1 is not subject to any unrelated patching; a full install of Hyper-V R3 takes up 8GB, while vSphere 5.1 only takes up a 144MB disk footprint; and Hyper-V R3 offers nothing that compares to vSphere 5.1’s integration with software-defined security.

The small footprint of ESXi 5.1 results in a significantly reduced vulnerability to malicious attacks. A couple of other features that truly set VMware apart as the king of virtualization are the Native Distributed Switch and the Distributed Resource Scheduling for Storage.

Not that Microsoft Hyper-V R3 is a bad virtualization platform. In fact, it has many benefits to offer, especially with the Windows Server 2012 release that includes a new virtual switch and enhanced Hyper-V features. However, from what we’ve seen/read, VMware vSphere 5. 1 does a better job at alleviating any barriers on the path to virtualization, making it all-around an easier fit for most environments.