In our recent webinar “Don’t let storage eat your Hyper-V Savings” we were asked a question from the audience, “Will Hyper-V ever replace VMware as the predominant hypervisor in the data center?” This loaded question is actually very interesting. While each has unique features VMware probably has the overall lead in that area, and of course, has an unprecedented lead in terms of market share. The appeal of Hyper-V is that it can be much more affordable than VMware and seems to be narrowing the gap in features.
Can Storage Give Hyper-V The Advantage Over VMware?
A more interesting twist on the above question is “Can storage give Hyper-V an advantage?” Microsoft provides lower level access and allows for more interesting configurations than does VMware. Three examples come from Gridstore, StarWind Software and Violin Memory Systems. Each of these address Hyper-V storage differently, but each can potentially broaden Hyper-V’s appeal.
If one of Hyper-V’s appeals is to make virtualization even more affordable then making sure that the storage infrastructure does not consume all the savings is an important function. One way to reduce costs is to leverage the compute capabilities of the host servers to support the data services of the storage infrastructure. As we discuss in our article “Three Keys To Cost Effective Hyper-V Storage” StarWind can do this by aggregating the internal storage resources of the physical servers. Gridstore creates a hybrid approach by running the storage controller software on those physical servers, but still leveraging purpose-built hardware that’s clustered together into a scale-out grid architecture. They also, as we detail in our article “Software-Defined Storage Optimized for Hyper-V“, provide per-VM control over storage performance so mission critical VMs get the performance they require.
Hyper-V Can Deliver High Performance
Hyper-V is not about cost savings alone, but also about running mission- or business-critical applications, some of which require high performance. Vendors like Violin are delivering on that front as well. Their new Windows Flash Array has a Windows 2012 Server built into it and can provide SMB direct access, ideal for Hyper-V hosts. The Windows 2012 Server boasts performance numbers in excess of 750K IOPS. Clearly Hyper-V armed with this type of system can meet any performance demand that a Windows application will need.
Only time will tell just how successful Hyper-V will be versus VMware but clearly, it is making inroads, and we see nothing to indicate that the trend will do anything but accelerate. The big stumbling block for VMware has always been the cost and complexity of storage. Hyper-V seems to have less of an issue here. Part of this is the quality of Hyper-V’s built in storage features and protocols, and part are the focus of the vendors delivering solutions in the space. These storage solutions combined with high quality migration solutions like HotLink’s as we discuss in our article “Software Defined Hypervisors? HotLink Abstracts The Hypervisor” making the move to Hyper-V more attractive every day.