This is one of the most highly trending topics storage and virtualization admins are trying to follow and cash in on. Server virtualization has evolved over the years beyond myths and apprehensions into a stable, secure and much-sought technology for improved productivity and resource efficiency. VMware® has been the major player in this market but with their latest release of Hyper-V® Microsoft® become a credible alternative.


In this blog series, we’ll compare the latest versions of these hypervisors vSphere 5.1 and Hyper-V 2012. Hyper-V has come a long way to be considered as a competitor to the undisputed vSphere. This might be kind of a bakeoff, but one that will help virtualization shops take advantage of both technologies and benefit from a multi-vendor virtual infrastructure.


In Part 1 of this series, we’ll compare the Storage capabilities and limitation of both the products. Let’s dive in.



Supported Storage Types



The table below shows the various storage types supported by both vSphere 5.1 and Hyper-V 2012. Hyper-V may not have had support for all of these earlier, but now with Hyper-V 2012, it matches all the supported storage technology that vSphere does.


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Storage Thin Provisioning


Yes, thin provisioning increases virtual machine storage utilization by enabling dynamic allocation and provisioning of physical storage capacity. This helps you cut down the amount of space that is allocated to the VMs but not used.

  • Hyper-V 2012 provides thins provisioning at the virtual layer via the VHDX file format and at the physical storage layer when your storage supports it. You can add virtual disks to SCSI controllers when the VM is running (provided the VM is powered off). Though the VHDX disk goes up to 64 TB, because of its dynamic expansion, it grows only when required, and saves a lot of storage capacity.
  • vSphere 5.1 introduces a new virtual disk type, the space-efficient (SE) sparse virtual disk. This has the ability to reclaim previously used space within the guest OS and the ability to set a granular virtual machine disk block allocation size according to the requirements of the application.



Support for Linked Images


Instead of creating a base image for all the VMs you are running, it will save you tremendous storage if you just create a base image and link the other VMs to this.

  • VMware Linked Clones are simply “read/write” snapshots of a “master or parent” desktop image. This feature is not available in vSphere yet and is native only to vCloud Director and View. With vSphere 5.1, the maximum number of hosts that can share a read-only file has been increased to 32. Now VMware View and vCloud deployments using linked clones can have 32 hosts sharing the same base disk image.
  • Hyper-V Differencing Disks are like VMware Linked Clones. There’s a parent VHD and a number of linked VHD\VHDX for VMs that only record the changes from the parent. Virtual admins can create a master base image and simply link other VMs to this image and save a lot of disk space.



Storage Management


Both vSphere and Hyper-V offer centralized management capabilities for datastores. Both offer SMI-S support.

  • vSphere has vCenter Server
  • Hyper-V 2012 needs System Center 2012 - Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)


This analysis DOES NOT comes down to a winner. Both the hypervisors are suited for different requirements based on cost, infrastructure and virtualization management. Watch out for Part 2 of the vSphere 5.1 vs. Hyper-V 2012 series where we will discuss Memory Handling”.





Can’t Wait to Read the Next Part Already?


This blog is based on information in the whitepaper “Hyper-V® 2012 vs. vSphere™ 5.1: Understanding the Differences” provided by SolarWinds and blogger Scott Lowe. Download the whitepaper to get the whole story.


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If you are interested in virtualization performance monitoring, learn about VMware monitoring and Hyper-V monitoring.

Other parts of the vSphere 5.1 vs. Hyper-V 2012 series: