Hyper-V Versus VMware ESX in 2012

IDC reported in late 2011 that Hyper-V grew 62% in 2011 versus VMware ESX’s growth of 21% (note: Citrix XenServer grew 25%.)  Gartner now projects that in 2012 Hyper-V will account for 27% of the virtualization market – a significant improvement over the 11% from 2 years ago (note: Citrix is projected to grow to 6% by Gartner while Linux’s KVM is projected to be at only 2%.)

What is pretty amazing is the penetration Microsoft is projected to be making in the SMB (Small and Medium Business) space.  Gartner projects 85% Hyper-V market share for all businesses with less than 1000 employees that have implemented virtualization.

While it’s clear that VMware’s ESX will continue to be technically superior to Microsoft’s Hyper-V in 2012, there’s also no doubt that Microsoft is doing what it always does – eroding the gap between the first-to-market offering and it’s own later-to-market offering – while offering a very aggressive pricing model.  Hyper-V in 2012 (also called Hyper-V3, Hyper-V 3, Hyper-V V3, Windows 8 Hyper-V, and so on.)

Microsoft is claiming that in 2012 Windows Server 8’s Hyper-V will “leapfrog” VMware.  Now – obviously you have to take this claim with a huge grain of salt – because it (a) comes from the very biased toward Hyper-V Microsoft and (b) tends to ignore the fact that VMware will be making improvements in ESX/ESXi in 2012 as well.   At the same time, it’s important to understand what Microsoft is claiming for Windows Server 8 Hyper-V.

The new features include:

  • Hyper-V no longer requires a NAS, SAN, or cluster.  What Microsoft did was implement a new version of SMB (Server Message Block), which they call SMB 2.2, which uses RDMA (Remote Direct Memory Access.)  What this does is allow Hyper-V to access storage directly – thus shared storage is no longer required.
  • Live Migration will be supported with DAS (Direct Attached Storage) – Microsoft is calling this “Share Nothing Live Migration.”  This means Microsoft can offer a virtual hard drive and a virtual machine to be transferred between server-attached disks over a network connection.
  • Hyper-V Replica is a site-to-site failover feature that allows replication over either a synchronous or asynchronous network.  Microsoft takes a shot at VMware with this feature – noting that it comes bundled with Hyper-V while with VMware’s vSphere Replication (which is offered in vCenter’s SRM – Site Recovery Manager, version 5 of which was released in September 2011) you have to purchase this separately.
  • Hyper-V is lifting some of the restrictions on maximum environments supported – up to 160 maximum logical cores per host, 2TB of maximum RAM per host, 4000 maximum virtual machines per cluster, 63 maximum nodes per cluster, 32 maximum CPUs per virtual machine, half a terabyte of maximum RAM per virtual machine, and 12TB maximum virtual machine disk size with the new VHDX file type (note: VHDX is only getting supported in Windows 8.)

So what still sucks about Hyper-V?  The biggest issue I think is no NIC teaming (bonding) is still a huge deal.  I’m hoping that Microsoft gets enough pressure to reverse its stance and get this into Windows 8 Hyper-V in 2012.

I’m looking forward to seeing how VMware counters when laying out its 2012 deliverables.


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