Working with Hyper-V for the past several years and even with Virtual PC and Virtual Server, Microsoft has come a long way in the virtualization space. We also have some strong competitors with solid technologies, in VMware, Citrix and others. However, our strongest competitor is VMware, and with Windows Server 2012 not only have we caught up with Hyper-V (now in its 3rd version) in many cases we have surpassed VMware. So in today’s article I am going to take a look at why you should look to Hyper-V for your virtualization platform of choice. In the 31 Days of Our Favorite Things series, we have covered several of the key new features in Hyper-V, Get the Gremlin Out of Your Active Directory Virtualization Infrastructure with Windows Server 2012, Step-by-Step: Hyper-V Network Virtualization, Switch on Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012, Live Migration and Shared Nothing Migration, and Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V Replica. There are many more new and improved features in Hyper-V and click on this link to learn more: What’s New in Hyper-V
What all the changes and improvements mean is simply that Hyper-V is ready for your infrastructure and your applications. Even with Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V was starting to close the technical gap, in Windows Server 2012 not only have we closed the technical gap in some areas we have surpassed VMware. Additionally we had thousands of customers around the world switch over to Windows Server 2008 R2. One of those Windows Server 2008 R2 customers is Pella. Initially in 2004 they chose VMware for their infrastructure, but now they have switched their entire datacenter to Hyper-V. Check out the full case study here: Pella: Window Maker Improves IT Service Delivery, Efficiency with Hyper-V Private Cloud
Keep in mind with Pella they changed with Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. However, many customers found that there may have been some technical gaps, storage migration, scalability concerns, networking….etc. that prevented from Windows Server 2008 R2 being the appropriate technical solution at the time. Hyper-V may have also been an unknown quantity to some customers and is a big ask to have them revaluate a platform like VMware. Before I go any further, I know looking to migrate away from VMware may be a big task for a platform you have not used. While I firmly believe Hyper-V is up to the task, it may not be realistic for you to move everything, what I would recommend is for you take a look at Hyper-V for your next virtualization project. Maybe even try the free Hyper-V server 2012: https://aka.ms/hypervserver
I know a lot of you are looking at Hyper-V today. In fact in a September 2012 blog post: Customer Insights on Windows Server 2012, Virtualization and Private Clouds Presented in an Infographic highlighted recent results of a Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG)*, survey which revealed, in an infographic, that 90% of those surveyed were deploying or planned to deploy Windows Server 2012 within 24 months. The survey data also showed that of the respondents, 51% said that Server Virtualization was an important capability of Windows Server 2012, while 49% also cited Private Cloud enablement as one. Now is the time to start looking at Windows Server 2012 if you have not done so.
Let’s get technical!
There is a great 25 page whitepaper that really showcased how Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V has outcompeted VMware. You can find the article here: Competitive Advantages of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V over VMware vSphere 5.1.
I know what you might be thinking that you seen a lot of surveys that compare the products that cast Hyper-V in a different light. I have seen and read many of those articles, and to put it bluntly those articles have a tendency to be dated (using previous versions of our software) or a combination of old and new products to not tell who the whole story. In the study I mentioned above, it references the current shipping version of Windows Server and VMware, just the hypervisors. The article does not delve too much into management, but remember when we talk about management of the Microsoft platform, we will include System Center 2012 with SP1 as a part of the story. Even though System Center is an additional cost, combined with Windows Server 2012 in almost all instances it is less cost than the comparable VMware solutions. My point is when you look at the comparisons articles, make sure they are referencing current technologies and look at them objectively.
With that said there are some things I found interesting from the article. First a lot of folks always talk about VMware and scalability, and looking at the below table Windows Server 2012 offers equal and greater scalability:
Not to even mention the support in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V for concurrent live migrations, VMware also supports live migrations. However in Windows Server 2012, you can live migrate as many virtual machines as your hardware will allow. I have seen a demonstration of Live Migration with over 100 virtual machines simultaneously. To do this, we have dramatically improved the VM Migration performance and scalability beyond any other platform in the market. As contrast, VMware is capped at 8 and I believe 5.1 capped it at 10. Hyper-V can deliver 10x move VM migrations. Furthermore, this engineering investment also means we have helped future proof customers’ investments. As you upgrade your hardware, your ability to Live Migrate more VMs simultaneously will likely rise with that investment.
One of the huge improvements in Windows Server 2012 is around storage. With new capabilities around virtual fiber channel, support for 4-KB Disk Sectors in Hyper-V Virtual Disks, which lets you take advantage of the emerging innovation in storage hardware that provides increased capacity and reliability. Combine those with the new virtual hard disk format (VHDX) and Offloaded Data Transfer (ODX), Windows Server 2012 can become the storage server for your mission critical applications an your datacenter.
From the comparison article Competitive Advantages of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V over VMware vSphere 5.1“:
As shown in the table, Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V provides a significant number of advantages over both the vSphere Hypervisor and vSphere 5.1 Enterprise Plus. Customers building virtualized infrastructures today require the highest levels of availability and performance, and wish to maximize the investment in their chosen technologies to help drive their business forward. With Microsoft, the ability to utilize Device Specific Modules, also known as DSMs, produced by storage vendors, in conjunction with the Multipath I/O framework within Windows Server, ensures that customers run their workloads on an optimized configuration from the start, as the storage vendor intended, providing the highest levels of performance and availability. This framework is built into the Windows Server platform, at no cost. Unfortunately, the vSphere Hypervisor doesn’t provide the ability to utilize these storage vendor specific optimizations, and in fact, only the Enterprise and Enterprise Plus editions of vSphere 5.1, through a feature known as ‘vStorage APIs for Multipathing’, provide this capability, meaning customers have to upgrade to higher, more costly editions in order to unlock the best performance from their storage investments.
We also added dramatic improvements to networking and virtualization. The changes will help streamline the performance of the networking of your virtual machines. Windows Server 2012 also supports various hardware acceleration features of high-end network adapter hardware to ensure maximum scalability and performance in cloud scenarios. We are now doing things that VMware has yet to tackle.
I know sometimes when you look at lists like these, you need a little more. One customer Pedcor Companies which develops, constructs, and manages both market-rate and affordable housing communities. Pedcor Companies was at a decision point in their infrastructure, upgrade their VMware environment or move to Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V. They chose to move to Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V. In their own words about the decision to switch:
“We asked ourselves: ‘Do we upgrade our VMware solution and invest in a larger SAN solution, or do we retire VMware and upgrade to Windows Server 2012?’” says Evans. “We chose Windows Server 2012 because it has an enterprise-ready hypervisor built in, it offers many other features that we need, and it enables us to avoid an expensive storage solution. On the one hand was a virtualization solution that required experts we couldn’t really afford, and on the other hand was a complete operating system—primed for building private clouds—that all of us can work with easily. Choosing Windows Server 2012 was a no-brainer.”
As you can see they decided to move not only from a costs savings but also by choosing a technology in Windows Server 2012 for their organization that made the most sense. In addition to Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 they are seeing value in other functions of Windows Server 2012:
- Hyper-V over Server Message Block 3 (SMB3)
- File and Storage Services
- Hyper-V live migration and storage migration
- Cluster-Aware Updating
- Hyper-V Replica
You can read the full Pedcor Companies case study here: Pedcor Companies: Real Estate Firm Expects to Avoid $560,000 in IT Costs by Using New Operating System
So now is a great time to choose Windows Server 2012, not only from a technical perspective, but also from a potential huge cost savings. I encourage you all to try Windows Server 2012 and Hyper-V!
We hope you have Enjoyed the series and THANK YOU for checking out the series.
To learn more about Windows Server 2012 by taking a look at these downloads:
- Azure Trial: https://aka.ms/GetAzureIaaS
- Windows Server 2012 Trial: https://aka.ms/GetWindowsServer2012
- Hyper-V Server 2012 Trial: https://aka.ms/hypervserver
If you missed any of the parts you can find the rest of the series here: 31 Days of Our Favorite Things in Windows Server 2012.