Why Choose Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V over VMware?

Have you been considering virtualization? Virtualization can reduce your operating cost by consolidating several servers onto a single physical server. A typical small configuration consists of 2-8 physical servers connected to a SAN (storage area network) for high-availability running between 20-100 virtual servers.

That’s right; you could be running 100 virtual servers on only a handful of physical servers. Virtualization would also provide you with highly-available servers and applications. If one of your physical servers were to have a hardware failure, your virtual servers would migrate to one of your other physical servers automatically. In addition, your IT staff would have the flexibility to roll out new virtual servers within minutes instead of having to order new hardware every time a department requests a new application or service.

Therefore, if you haven’t already jumped on the virtualization bandwagon, now might be the perfect time. The first step is deciding which platform is right for your environment. Many experts believe VMware does a better job with virtualization than Microsoft’s Hyper-V. This statement may have been accurate in the past, but Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 is quickly closing the gap.

Let’s take a quick look at the differences:

Hyper-V vs VMware
Click table to enlarge 

Based on core specifications, the new version of Hyper-V has surpassed VMware on the basic requirements for a virtualized infrastructure. Now don’t get too excited about these basic numbers since most implementations will not require maximum utilization of a single host server or a large implementation of 4000 virtual machines. What is important is that Hyper-V now has the ability to scale (like VMware) and includes most of the key features a network administrator would require in a virtualized environment.

Features such as live migrations, fast architecture with 64 vCPUs and 1 TB of RAM, along with the ability to create a virtual server within minutes are all features that make a network administrator’s job easier to perform. You now have the ability to roll out an entire network infrastructure or a lab environment with multiple servers all in one afternoon.

The major differences between the two platforms are going to be the advanced features and cost. A nice feature of VMware is small footprint, meaning the installation of the virtualization software will take up less disk space and therefore be less vulnerable to security threats and require less patching of the OS. Also, having the ability to add more vCPU’s and vRAM to a virtual machine without having to shut down the VM is a plus. However, many of the advantages VMware has to offer may not be relevant for your environment, and for most small business roll-outs these features are not necessary. Additionally, the lower cost of Hyper-V and the familiarity of the operating systems has made Hyper-V the better choice.

Windows Server 2012 now comes in 2 main editions: Standard and Datacenter. (Enterprise Edition has been eliminated). The cost of Windows Server 2012 Standard is $882 and includes 2 virtual instances. The cost of Windows Server 2012 Datacenter is $4,809 and includes an unlimited number of virtual instances. Both editions come with licenses for 2 physical processors per server. If your server has 4 physical processors, you will need to purchase 2 copies of Windows Server 2012. Client Access Licenses (CAL) are also required based on the number of users accessing the systems.

During the past few years, the only complaint I had about the older Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V implementations was regarding the limit of 4 vCPU per virtual machine. This has now been increased to 64 vCPU, making it better suited for applications such as SQL server. Several 3rd party studies have shown that Microsoft’s SQL, Exchange, and SharePoint servers perform better on Hyper-V than on VMware.

Based on the above information, you should take a close look at your environment before deciding on what platform to invest in. If you’re a small or medium sized business with mostly Microsoft products, it would likely make sense to use Windows Server 2012 as your virtualization platform. If you need any assistance with the implementation of your Virtualized infrastructure, please do not hesitate to contact FMT Consultants.

Written by:
Jim Barton, Senior II IT Consultant
FMT Consultants

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