VMware or Hyper-V? Part 1: Which hypervisor will work best for your environment?

July 10, 2017 | Ken Leoni

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 require older or broader guest OS version support then VMware would be the platform of choice. While Hyper-V supports limited Windows platforms (i.e. no Windows 2003) and specific variants of Linux,  VMware supports an array of guest OS platforms

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.
  • Hyper-V is installed as part of  Windows 2008 and up and 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 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, vSphere 6.5 comes with a significantly enhanced vCenter Server Appliance which supports native high availability, built-in backup/restore, better scalability and more, while Microsoft’s System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2016 added support for rolling upgrades of Windows Server 2012 R2 host clusters.  Both technologies are a moving target, so keep this in mind when you read through the following sample of hypervisor comparisons:

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 additional license fees – but it often requires more steps to configure.

In our next post, we’ll take a look at the cost of licensing Windows operating systems running on virtual machines. A lowest common denominator no matter the hypervisor is the licensing costs associated with Windows and this may well impact the criteria used to size the hosts.


 vSphere vs Hyper-V comparison matrix
Download the comparison:   vSphere vs Hyper-V

Both technologies provide redundancies that maximize your up-time and that allow you to squeeze out the most performance

Which is better and how do you decide?


Additional posts in our VMware or Hyper-V series:

Part 2: VM Operating System Licenses
Part 3: Virtualization Licensing Costs

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