A Virtual Showdown

A couple months ago I wrote about my use of Microsoft Hyper-V, which is Microsoft’s answer to VMWare. I have been quite happy with it for working with a development lab. Since I wrote that blog post I’ve learned a couple new things.

Admin Arsenal - Microsoft Hyper V - Virtual Computing
Photo by fdecomite

First, Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2 is really slick. Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 include the bits and pieces to run within a virtual machine. With other operating systems you would need to install the Hyper-V tools in the guest in order to get full functionality. That saves a step when installing a new virtual machine, especially if you run the Hyper-V manager through remote desktop (without the tools, the mouse can’t be captured making install a real pain.)  2008 R2 is going to give VMWare a run for its money for small organizations.

Second, VMWare still has more power overall than Hyper-V. I started using VMWare Server which is now free (in response to the “freeness” of Hyper-V, I assume.) It lacks some of the power of Hyper-V, but it does seem more mature. The user interface is quite a bit better, in my opinion, and it seems to support more options for hardware and configuration. It doesn’t support multiple snapshots, like Hyper-V does, which can be limiting, but you can always pay for that feature if it’s needed.

What I really like about VMWare, though, is its cross platform nature. I run a number of Apple Macintoshes and it’s nice to be able to shuttle virtual machines back and forth between VMWare Fusion and VMWare Server. If I ever need to do some running on Linux, I would be supported there as well. Also, as for the virtual machines themselves VMWare is agnostic, while Hyper-V is focusing on Windows. I haven’t tested anything but Windows just yet, but based on what I’ve seen so far it’s probably going to be smoother with VMWare.

In the end, I think I’m going to stick mainly with VMWare so I won’t have virtual machines trapped on Windows. But I won’t abandon Hyper-V completely, there will be times that it’ll make sense to use, particularly for testing. At some point I can see my development lab getting very large, and if that happens then I will look to VMWare’s higher end products which look to have a lot more capabilities that Microsoft’s high end offerings, at least for the time being.