Microsoft continues Hyper-V growth, catching up to VMware

We learned a lot at MMS 2013 last week, but the one theme that Microsoft was constantly bringing forth was the fact that Hyper-V is now the dominant virtualization platform from a technology perspective, and the company best known for Windows has set its sights on taking over the market share lead. Although we’re still awaiting formal numbers from IDC, we were told that VMware peaked at roughly 54% of the market and is in a slow decline, while Hyper Microsoft’s Hyper-V is at roughly 30% and has been recently increasing a percentage point every quarter.

What’s causing this shift? We sat down with Brad Anderson, corporate vice president of program management in Microsoft's Windows Server and System Center Group, and asked him his thoughts on this topic. While he agreed that cost was a factor, with Hyper-V coming in 1/6th less than a comparable VMware setup, he said that was only a minor reason why many organizations were switching away from VMware, such as:

  • Better scale: Hyper-V supports up to 320 logical processors and 4TB of RAM per server
  • Larger VMs: Can run 64 virtual processors and 1 TB of RAM and 64TB disks (with up to 255 disks ) per virtual machine
  • Bigger clusters: Supports up to 64 nodes and 8,000 VMs in a single cluster, twice what VMware offers

Also gone are some of the annoying idiosyncrasies and bugs inherent in the 2008 release of the hypervisor. With the latest release, Microsoft has built a solid virtualization platform. Jeff Woolsey, principal manager for server and cloud at Microsoft, said, “This is the release where we blow past VMware and they need to catch up with us.”

Dominos pizza was brought up as a company that is extremely happy with Hyper-V. Each of the 5,000 stores in the United States installed two physical servers running Hyper-V that run the point-of-sale system for the company. With no local IT staff at the stores, the company is able to manage these 10,000 servers with only two sysadmins by harnessing the power of System Center. This is critical because over one third of orders come over the Internet, sales that would be lost without a stable infrastructure.

Xerox was another customer that had high praise for Hyper-V. The number one frustration with the development team in India was the time difference between the support center in the United States. By building up a Hyper-V cluster in India, the development team is now able to build up platforms to replicate errors that their customers are seeing in order to quickly fix bugs in the code. A process that used to take days or weeks can now be solved in hours, and the company has seen no differences between VMware and Hyper-V, although they still use the former for their production environment.

Despite the positive buzz about the platform, almost everyone we talked to at the conference still said that they were going to be staying with VMware in the near future. Although many people were excited to demo the latest release, nobody was willing to convert within the next year or two.

What are you using at your office? Are you firmly in the VMware camp? Are you actively running Hyper-V in your organization? Or are you taking a “wait and see” approach with Microsoft’s hypervisor? We'd love to hear your experiences!

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What do you think of Hyper-V?

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It'll be a cold day in hell before Hyper-V runs in production where I work.

Simple yet evident things are still missing, like live-resizing of virtual Hard Drives (vhdx files). You want to do that? Sorry, 1st shutdown the VM then resize... I won't even talk about hot-adding CPUs and RAM, memory de-duping etc...

VMWare vSphere 5 is rock solid and does everything one would expect from such a platform.

Besides the price comparisons (which often conveniently leave out SCVMM pricing when MS shows up numbers...), the rest is just about absurd number games :
Instead of using performance metrics as a comparison (I/Os, etc), which mostly paint hyper-v in a negative way, Microsoft pushes maximum supported configurations as a selling point, configurations no one will ever use because they completely negate the cost/performance advantages of a well designed virtualization platform.

Remember, price is not everything. One day or another you'll hit one of hyper-v's limitations (someone wants to talk about storage clusters and I/O monitoring/normalization?) and you'll be left scratching your head on how you can overcome it.

The licensing with Hyper-V in Server 2012 is what has sold us for Windows guests.

Basically, buy Hyper-V Datacenter for the host and all you do not need to license your Windows guests - huge cost saving

In short words:
Hyper-V for virtualize windows server inside windows server.

Otherwise ESX, XEN and KVM.

In any case, Hyper-V will not catch Vmware for a long while.

Love Hyper-V, works very well, nice in a clustered environment (Win2k8R2, i consider Win2k8's version a beta). 2012 adds some nice features but 2008r2 is so rock solid there are no plans to move.

For personal VM / desktop VM i use virtualbox as it works across OS's and has a great range of features and stability.

I'd rather die a slow death than use that Hyper-V! The whole idea behind visualization in my opinion is letting you hypervizor be free from Windows, and all it's problems. What a joy patch Tuesday would be with Hyper-V as my hypervizor! I don't care how many features Microsoft adds to it to let it compete with VMware, if I have anything to do with it, our company will remain Hyper-V free!!

Waiting for the MS fanboys to flame me...

Co-ords said,
I'd rather die a slow death than use that Hyper-V! The whole idea behind visualization in my opinion is letting you hypervizor be free from Windows, and all it's problems. What a joy patch Tuesday would be with Hyper-V as my hypervizor! I don't care how many features Microsoft adds to it to let it compete with VMware, if I have anything to do with it, our company will remain Hyper-V free!!

Waiting for the MS fanboys to flame me...

Of course vmware never releases patches for ESX(i) that require a reboot ! As if this is a problem when you are running a cluster, that way there is no impact whatsoever, as you simply drain the roles to other nodes before you reboot the hyper-v node being patched, it is hardly rocket science.

Co-ords said,
The whole idea behind visualization in my opinion is letting you hypervizor be free from Windows, and all it's problems.

We don't need to be MS fanboys to tell you, virtualization has *nothing* to do with specific OSes. It's quite the opposite. The whole point of virtualization is to make it possible to run *any* OS. And in that regard, the hypervisor's OS just doesn't matter at all, it's not the hypervisor that you run your apps on, it's the guests. It makes me sad that things like this need to be explained. Hopefully you're not in a serious position at your company...

Co-ords said,
I'd rather die a slow death than use that Hyper-V! The whole idea behind visualization in my opinion is letting you hypervizor be free from Windows, and all it's problems. What a joy patch Tuesday would be with Hyper-V as my hypervizor! I don't care how many features Microsoft adds to it to let it compete with VMware, if I have anything to do with it, our company will remain Hyper-V free!!

Waiting for the MS fanboys to flame me...

The hyperviser is free from Windows, if you turn on Hype-V for Windows Server 2012 it actually takes over at the lower hardware level and boots first, then Windows Server runs on top of it. As far as I know you're not running hyper-v on top of Windows Server 2012 even if you enable it after the install.

Hyper-V is great and we use it for everything virtualization related but I think it still has a little ways to go. Maybe Windows (Server) Blue will bring some more feature parity with other solutions like VMWare, etc.

I personally don't see many shops that are heavily invested in VM jumping ship but for most newcomers, Hyper-V has become and excellent choice at a much lower cost.

In fact, Hyper-V has no real cost at all except for client licenses - as an earlier user pointed out, both Windows 8 and Windows Server (back as far as 2003R2 in Server's case) include it. USB passthrough is, in fact, included in Hyper-V 3 - however, the feature requires second-level address translation/Extended Processor Table support, and is still a niche feature (which is why VMware's admittedly better implementation is as pricey as it is - those that need the niche feature feel it's worth paying for). And no, it's not exactly *free* in VMware Player - it chews up CPU cycles (same applies to Oracle VirtualBox as well, which also supports it). Inertia is, in fact, an issue when competing against VMware - they are the oldest player in terms of virtualization at every level; I stressed exactly that in my comments on a related thread in the Microsoft Server subforum. However, unless you need the features that are part of the cost of buying into VMware, Hyper-V can easily replace it.

My first thought would be why you need Local IT Staff at Dominos o_0.

But secondly in the VM vs HV world; I won't be looking at HV till they implement PCI-Passthrough like VM has. Dead to me till then :-/

I Adore ESX.

Edited by Klownicle, Apr 15 2013, 2:23am :

Hyper-V supports virtual SAN adapters built on the physical HBA and RemoteFX for video acceleration on a beefy enough DX11 card, and SR-IOV support for network adapters with the feature. If you had an oddball PCI device though, yes, you would not be able to make it available to Hyper-V.

For simple things (like testing out leaked Windows ISO's) i much prefer VMware Player. It's totally free and it's easier to use than Hyper-V, and yeah Hyper-V is built in to Win 8 but it's just not as easy and also needs UI update - it's ugly. Maybe Hyper-V is better for large scale stuff but i wouldn't know.

No idea why some people still use Virtual Box for this stuff, in literally every single area VMware Player is WAY better, and i really do mean every area. People need to get with the times.

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,
For simple things (like testing out leaked Windows ISO's) i much prefer VMware Player. It's totally free and it's easier to use than Hyper-V, and yeah Hyper-V is built in to Win 8 but it's just not as easy and also needs UI update - it's ugly. Maybe Hyper-V is better for large scale stuff but i wouldn't know.

No idea why some people still use Virtual Box for this stuff, in literally every single area VMware Player is WAY better, and i really do mean every area. People need to get with the times.


I'm glad Microsoft doesn't waste a lot of resources making Hyper-V pretty. I love it and use it every day. I wish I had more cause to use it.

siah1214 said,

I'm glad Microsoft doesn't waste a lot of resources making Hyper-V pretty. I love it and use it every day. I wish I had more cause to use it.

Updating the UI isn't exactly hard. The UI needs to be more user friendly and quicker at certain tasks (too many needless steps when it can be automated), it hasn't changed in years. But yeah MS can also make it look better while they're at it. VMware seem to put effort in to both the UI and features which make it a pleasure to use.

W32.Backdoor.KillAV.E said,
For simple things (like testing out leaked Windows ISO's) i much prefer VMware Player. It's totally free and it's easier to use than Hyper-V, and yeah Hyper-V is built in to Win 8 but it's just not as easy and also needs UI update - it's ugly. Maybe Hyper-V is better for large scale stuff but i wouldn't know.

No idea why some people still use Virtual Box for this stuff, in literally every single area VMware Player is WAY better, and i really do mean every area. People need to get with the times.

Strictly speaking, this articles is about enterprise grade virtualisation, not about running workstation virtualisation. Vmware workstation/player is a type 2 hypervisor which means it doesn't offer the same performance as hyper-v (or ESX) which are both type 1 hypervisors.

The difference becomes apparent when you run more than one vm. For hyper-v UI being ugly, that is a non issue, as to have the full feature set, you would use rdp into Windows boxes (with graphics and sound support) or xrdp when using Linux boxes.

Back at the enterprise level. We are using two hyper-v clusters in two locations, one location already had an ESX infrastructure which is being phased out now.

Although I'm really liking what MS are doing with Hyper-V, I'm still and probably will still be a VMware user. That and I also have like 100s of VMs which are VMware tailored The integration with the Windows Phone 8 emulator is actually really beaut as well and I still think their enterprise management tools are better but that could change pretty quickly! Strong competition is good!