Now that both Microsoft and VMware have officially announced the new released of their virtualization products it’s possible make an homogenous comparison between Hyper-V 2016 and vSphere 6.5 (like I’ve done some years ago with the Hyper-V 2012R2 vs. vSphere 5.5 article).

Comparing two different product is not so easy, also if released really closed one each other. You have found some homogenous aspects to make the comparison, at least at technical level (but as written, it’s not so much important now). For numbers could be really easy, but numbers are not enough: for example memory management it’s still really different (VMware implement different technologies, Hyper-V only Dynamic Memory, only on some OSes)… so it’s not the same what you can do with the same amount of memory.

VMware-LogoVMware vSphere 6.5 introduces several news and scalability improvements and also if it has a minor number, should be (as usal) considered a new version of vSphere!

Microsoft-LogoMicrosoft Hyper-V 2016 fills mostly of the features that were missing (compared to VMware vSphere) and add some totally news. With Windows Server adds also the nano server concept that can be finally a tight and thiny version of the OS to have something like ESXi (but still without the ability to run only on ramdisk and to boot in a stateless way).

Hardware requirements are becoming much similar, considering that also VMware require hardware assisted technologies for processors (but Hyper-V now require mandatory also memory virtualization assisted).

Hypervisor space requirements are completely different (ESXi could be installed on a 1 GB USB or SD card, Hper-V actually cannot be installed on a SD card, but nano server installation finally require less than 1 GB of disk space!) and also minimum memory requirements are singly different.

Scaling and maximums

System Resource Microsoft Hyper-V 2016
VMware vSphere 6.5
Free Hypervisor Essential Plus Enterprise Plus
Host Logical Processors 512 576 576 576
Physical Memory 24 TB 4 TB? 4 TB? 12 TB
Virtual CPUs per Host 2048 4096 4096 4096
VM per Host 1024 1024 1024 1024
Nested Hypervisor Yes (only some OSes) Yes Yes Yes
VM Virtual CPUs per VM 240 for Generation2
64 for Generation1
8 128? 128
Memory per VM 12 TB for Generation2
1 TB for Generation1
6128 GB 6128 GB 6128 GB
Maximum Virtual Disk 64 TB for VHDX format
2040 GB for VHD format
62 TB 62 TB 62 TB
Number of disks 256 (SCSI) 60 (SCSI) 60 (SCSI) 60 (SCSI)
Cluster Maximum Nodes 64 N/A 64 64
Maximum VMs 8000 N/A 8000 8000

As written memory management it’s really different and is not so easy to be compared. Dynamic Memory it’s better or worse? For supported OS, in my opinion, it’s an interesting approach (and VMware could implement it, considering that they already have the RAM hot-add feature), but of course having memory it’s always a better option. Remember also that the VMware Transparent Page Sharing feature have some limit with new OS (and also that it’s working on a page hash, and not on a real page comparison) and starting with vSphere 6.0 has been disabled by default.

VM features

Other comparisons are now no more interesting (just because the features are quite similar, just with other names) or are really complex (just because the features are very different).

The main difference is that in Hyper-V all feature of the Standard edition are available also in the free edition (big change from previous version where the free edition has the same features of the datacenter edition), and there are some difference between the Standard and the Datacenter edition (like nano server support, Storage Replica, …). In VMware each edition has different feature sets (see the editions comparison) and the free edition remain limited on the backup capabilities (no VADP support).

For example Live Migration and Storage Live migration are pretty the same, with communication encryption (added now in vSphere 6.5), multichannel support, dedicated network (for the VM migration across hosts). Formally Hyper-V does not have a Geo-vMotion, but has only replication across clouds.

Also Hyper-V has got some limitation in VM live migration across host with different versions, but starting with 2016 version seems now possible (at least across 2012 R2 and 2016 versions).

Features Microsoft Hyper-V 2016
VMware vSphere 6.5
Free Hypervisor Essential Plus Enterprise Plus
VM host live migration Yes No Yes Yes
VM storage live migration Yes No No Yes
Storage/Network QoS Yes No (just disk shares) No (just disk shares
at host level)
Yes
Hardware passthrough Discrete Device Assignment PCI VMDirectPath
USB redirection
PCI VMDirectPath
USB redirection
PCI VMDirectPath
USB redirection
Hot-Add Disks/vNIC/RAM Disks/vNIC/USB Disks/vNIC/USB Disks/vNIC/USB/
CPU/RAM
Hot-Remove Disks/vNIC/RAM Disks/vNIC/USB Disks/vNIC/USB Disks/vNIC/USB/CPU
Disk resize Hot-grow and shrink Hot-grow Hot-grow Hot-grow
VM encryption Yes  No No? Yes

Management

Also management capabilities are difficult to be compared, just because Hyper-V does not required System Center VMM to implement most of the cluster features (like VM template and a better resource provisioning); on the other side VMware vCenter is mandatory, but now the vCSA has been finally improved and has become the first choice.

Both could be controlled from command line (PowerShell is the first choice for Microsoft, but PowerCLI is gaining attraction also for VMware).

Cost

Cost comparison is now complicated: VMware ESXi remain licensed per socket (physical CPU) but Windows Server 2016 is now licensed also per core and there are again features difference between the standard and the datacenter editions.

For Hyper-V a zero license cost option could be use Hyper-V Server (that is the free version of Hyper-V, but competly full features). Of course you still need the guest OS licenses (but same apply for ESXi) and the licenses for the rest of the physical infrastructure (for Hyper-V a physical Domain Controller could be useful).

For the management part, for VMware vCenter is mandatory (if you want cluster features), but does not require anymore a Windows license (neither for VUM). For Hyper-V SCVMM could be usefull (like the rest of System Center suite), but not mandatory.

HCI

Both have also an hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) solution integrated at the kernel level: VSAN for vSphere and Storage Space Direct for Microsoft (it’s a feature of Windows Server, so could be used not only for hyper-converged deployment).

Both type of solution are able to build a 2-nodes cluster: VSAN require an external ESXi host (virtual) for the quorum, SD2 is just based on the Windows Fail-Over cluster, so an exteral withness (file or cloud) should be fine.

Andrea MauroAbout Andrea Mauro (2375 Posts)

Virtualization & Cloud Architect. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). PernixPro 2014. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014. MVP 2014. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.