I was reading through this well done article by the Network World Labs comparing the performance between Microsoft’s Hyper-V and VMware’s ESX 3.5.0 Hypervisor and got to thinking about some of my own experiences in the lab with the two products. I have had 4 ESX servers and VirtualCenter running in my lab for a few months now and recently added a new Windows 2008 server with Hyper-V. My two primary ESX servers are running on Dell Poweredge 1950 quad core servers with 16GB ram each and running in a VI cluster to pool the resources and using NFS shares for centralized VM storage. My single Hyper-V server is running on identical hardware and still needs to be connected to the storage mounts.
In my light comparison testing thus far I have to agree with the folks at Network world that ESX has the edge for overall performance, personally I am not surprised and I think this is to be expected since they have had the technology on the market longer than MS and furthermore the Hypervisor layer requirements are much smaller than MS’s Hyper-V. The Windows Server 2008 overhead is quite hefty.. especially compared with the relatively small overhead requirements for ESX and even more compelling with the ESXi (no service console) version of ESX.
Performance aside there is still quite a gap between the two systems for VM guest support, MS can really only support Windows guests and Novell’s Suse linux while VMware’s system has broad support for a variety of Linux flavors, Solaris x86, etc. I have also recently just started trying out the latest Systems Center Virtual Machine Manager release from MS (they claim it can manage heterogeneous virtualization platforms) and have to say I do like the interface quite a bit. Virtual Center (once you get used to digging for information in it) is usable enough but the structure of SCVMM is pretty compelling especially if you are already very familiar with Microsoft’s management software interfaces (all of which seem to follow an Outlook type of layout and style). The way key performance and security information is presented in SCVMM seems to be a bit cleaner and certainly easier to find.
I only just recently pulled my existing VMware VI into the SCVMM interface and plan to do some deeper testing of how well it can really manage ESX infrastructure and the enterprise features such as vmotion, etc. I will post more on this as I collect more information.