Choosing Between Hyper-V and VMware

Virtualization allows a single piece of computer hardware to be shared among several virtual machines (VMs). Aside from lowering equipment costs and generating extensive cost savings, virtualization eases resource and IT management, improves business continuity with minimal downtime, and allows faster hardware and software provisioning. A hypervisor that runs on top of the hardware and allows direct access to its components brings virtualization’s capabilities to the fore. Hyper-V and VMware are two of the leading hypervisors in the market.

What Is Hyper-V?

Microsoft Hyper-V is a native hypervisor that has been an optional component in Windows Server products since Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V is also found in the x64-bit Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11. There is also a standalone Hyper-V Server with a limited function set that Microsoft makes available for free.

Hyper-V is a type-1, or bare-metal, hypervisor since it runs directly on the computer hardware and beneath the host and guest VMs. Hyper-V’s capabilities and the fact that it is designed and supported by Microsoft allows its use as a virtualization platform for any organization looking to expand its IT infrastructure.

An Overview of the Hyper-V Infrastructure

In a Hyper-V infrastructure, the host OS where Hyper-V is installed becomes a parent VM, and guest VMs installed with other operating systems are treated as child VMs. Although the parent VM and guest VMs essentially share the same resources on the server machine, the parent VM takes care of allocating the resources needed by the guest VMs. It uses a VMBus that runs from the parent VM’s Virtualization Service Provider to the guest VMs’ Virtualization Service Client. This work is performed behind the scenes, without any management needed on the parent and guest VMs.

Hyper-V utilizes a microkernelized hypervisor architecture where services and device drivers operate independently from the hardware layer. This design means that Hyper-V has less overhead for maintaining and managing devices and services that are not dependent on the hypervisor. This makes Hyper-V fast and scalable, as it directly accesses the hardware and does not need to load drivers and services during initialization.

Hyper-V saves guest VMs to a virtual hard disk file and uses a high-level communication protocol called Enlightened I/O to access the physical hardware’s processing, storage, networking, and graphics components, among others. Enlightened I/O bypasses any device emulation layer and allows direct access to VMBus. Aside from Windows operating systems, Linux devices with kernels based on versions 3.4 and above and FreeBSD also support Enlightened I/O, allowing them to run faster on Hyper-V. Operating systems that do not support Enlightened I/O run on a slower emulation layer.

Notable Hyper-V Features

Some essential features of Hyper-V include:

Disaster recovery and backup

Hyper-V can make backup copies of VMs and store them in other locations for later retrieval in case of disaster. It also offers two backup methods, one using saved states and the other using Volume Shadow Copy Service or Volume Snapshot Service (VSS), as it is also known.


Moving a VM somewhere else is easier since Hyper-V supports live migration, storage migration, and import/export.

Remote connectivity

Hyper-V has a remote connection tool that supports both Windows and Linux. Known as Virtual Machine Connection, this tool features console access that allows you to see the events in the guest VM even when it is in an unbooted state.


Hyper-V features Secure Boot, helping protect virtual machines and their data from malware and other forms of unauthorized access.

What Is VMware vSphere?

VMware vSphere is a virtualization platform, unlike Hyper-V, since it comprises a suite of virtualization products. It includes the VMware ESXi hypervisor, a type-1 (bare-metal) hypervisor approximating Hyper-V’s capabilities. With its latest iteration, vSphere 7, the platform can now handle Kubernetes workloads out of the box, making it ideal for development environments.

Regarding the hypervisor component of vSphere 7, VMware ESXi can access the physical hardware’s computing resources directly and share them among the VMs in the system. ESXi VMs run on a high-performance cluster file system known as Virtual Machine File System.

Previous iterations of the hypervisor utilize a Linux kernel, but that has been dropped. The latest ESXi version now runs on a microkernel, known as the VMkernel, which uses the Linux emulation layer to host the hardware and guest VMs, and connects directly to processors and RAM.

For the other hardware components, including networking and storage, ESXi uses modules linked via another module, VMKlinux, which is derived from the Linux module interface. Some of the other modules are also derived from different Linux kernel modules.

Other VMware vSphere components and features include:

vCenter Server —a management tool for ESXi that acts as the controller for datacenter services.

VMware vSphere Client—an HTML5 browser-based interface for connecting remotely to vCenter.

VMware vSphere Distributed Switch—a virtual switch for connecting to multiple hosts.

VMware Virtual SMP allows virtual machines to use more than one physical processor simultaneously.

vMotion—allows live migration of virtual machines even while they are running.

Storage vMotion—allows migration of virtual disks or configuration files.

vSphere High Availability—allows using other available servers to restart failed VMs.

VMware vSphere Software Development Kit—provides users with application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow access to some vSphere components.

Fault Tolerance—ensures continuous availability by creating copies of selected workloads on different servers.

How Do VMware and Hyper-V Compare?

VMWare and Hyper-V have their strengths and weaknesses. When choosing between the two, it boils down to which of the two meet your requirements.

Parallels RAS Supports Hosts Created with VMware and Hyper-V

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) supports VMware vSphere and Hyper-V and various other type-1 and type-2 hypervisors and hyperconverged systems, including Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, Scale Computing HC3, and Nutanix Acropolis.

Setup and configuration of VMware vSphere and Hyper-V hosts in Parallels RAS is straightforward. VMware requires more steps, which is not surprising given that you must also set up VMware vCenter and the ESXi Host. Hyper-V setup is more straightforward since you only need to set up the Hyper-V host.

After the host configuration and setup, you only need to set up an agent on the guest VMs to manage guests and publish their resources. Guest pools and templates are also easy to set up, manage and update via a single pane of glass.

Regardless of the platform you choose, Parallels RAS quickly creates an affordable virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) with improved security and centralized desktop management capabilities.

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