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How does VMware vSphere 5.5 compare to the competition?

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So how does VMware vSphere 5.5 compare to the competition?

Yesterday VMware release vSphere 5.5 which includes many new features and enhancements, again raising the bar for the competition.

But how does VMware vSphere 5.5 compare to Microsoft Server 2012 Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer 6.2 or RedHat RHEV 3.2? Check out our new Enterprise Hypervisor comparison in which I added the new vSphere 5.5 features and enhancements.



The founder and driving force behind VMGuru. With over 19 years experience in IT, he now works as a Cloud Management Specialist at VMware Benelux. Long time VMware VCP, VCP Desktop, VCA, VSP and VTSP and 8 year vExpert.

  • Keith Mayer

    Thanks Erik! A few updates for the Microsoft / Hyper-V column that may cause confusion in comparing these products:

    For comparison purposes, I’d recommend updating for Windows Server 2012 R2, which was released to manufacturing (RTM) yesterday. The R2 release includes Integrated storage tiering between SSD and HDD and Storage IO control via Storage QoS.

    In addition, in terms of auto storage placement, storage requirements are taken into account with intelligent placement in System Center 2012 VMM. In Windows Server 2012 R2, clustered storage is automatically rebalanced across nodes while VMs are running.

    For long distance live migration, Microsoft has supported lab validated results for long distance live migration since Windows Server 2008 R2. See this link for more details: http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2010/VIR323

    GPU Virtualization – Since Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Microsoft has supported GPU virtualization via RemoteFX technologies, a different approach than GPU Pass-through in VMware that targets the same end results. GPU Pass-through in VMware permits a server-side GPU to be passed directly to a VM, whereas RemoteFX GPU Virtualization permits the GPUs to be virtualized as a shared resource pool that can be shared across multiple VMs, if needed, providing greater flexibility.

    Guest OS Support – may be worthy of a footnote to explain how each vendor defines Guest OS Support. VMware defines Guest OS support as being “tested and supported by VMware” whereas Microsoft defines Guest OS support as being “tested and supported by Microsoft AND the Guest OS vendor”. In addition to the Guest OS’s listed in the Microsoft column, CentOS 5, RHEL 5, Ubuntu, and OpenSUSE are supported. Hyper-V Integration Services for Windows Server 2000 is also supported, although official product support for Windows Server 2000 as an operating system has, of course, ended. The full list of supported operating systems is kept updated by Microsoft at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc794868(WS.10).aspx.

    Oracle and Microsoft also announced in June that Hyper-V and Windows Azure are the only non-Oracle hypervisors that Oracle currently supports for Oracle database and Linux products. See https://blogs.oracle.com/cloud/entry/oracle_and_microsoft_join_forces for more details.

    Hope this helps to clear up any confusion!

    Best regards,



    Disclaimer: I am a Microsoft employee, but my tweets and comments are my own.

    • Keith, thanks you very much for your feedback.

      I fixed most of the comments you made, like the long distance live migration, GPU-passthrough and guest OS support.

      With regards to the Windows Server 2012 R2 features, I have not added them yet because the comparison only includes products that are generally available. So no beta’s RTM-versions, etc. I will use your information to prepare a new version which I will release when R2 goes GA. Probably October 18th if the internet sources are correct.

      With regards to the Oracle support on VMware. It’s true Oracle is not a big fan of virtualization in general and VMware in particular because with virtualization you get less server and for Oracle less servers is less income. Besides that, with virtualization they get slaughtered by their ridiculous licensing policy.

      My fellow-blogger, Edwin Weijdema, has spent a great deal of time in figuring out Oracle licensing and support and the conclusion is that although Oracle does not like it, there are some official Oracle document stating that virtualization is supported. He already got a few Oracle account managers scared. So the ‘Oracle-is-not-supported-on-VMware statement’ is a hoax.


      So your statement regarding “Hyper-V and Windows Azure are the only non-Oracle hypervisors that Oracle currently supports for Oracle database and Linux products” is not true. And I can find no information supporting that statement in the article provided or any other source for that matter. But the fact remains that Oracle is now extending support to Windows Server Hyper-V and Window Azure, which is great. Maybe Oracle will ‘get it’ one day.

      Again thanks for the Windows Server 2012 (R2) information, I included you in the credits, and stay tuned for October 18th.

      • Keith Mayer

        Thanks Erik! In terms of Oracle, instead of “supported”, I should’ve more clearly stated “certified”. Oracle products are certified on Hyper-V and Windows Azure, whereas my understanding is that they are not certified on VMware currently.

        The most recent Oracle support statement I could find for VMware is …

        Oracle has not certified any of its products on VMware virtualized
        environments. Oracle Support will assist customers running Oracle products on VMware in the following manner: Oracle will only provide support for issues that either are known to occur on the native OS, or can be demonstrated not to be as a result of running on VMware. If a problem is a known Oracle issue, Oracle support will recommend the appropriate solution on the native OS. If that solution does not work in the VMware virtualized environment, the customer will be referred to VMware for support. When the customer can demonstrate that the Oracle solution does not work when running on the native OS, Oracle will resume support, including logging a bug with Oracle Development for investigation if required.

        Let me know if you’ve seen something different from Oracle. Thanks! Best regards, Keith

  • David King

    These charts are great, dont get me wrong. However you need to somehow add things like upgrade ability.

    For instance you can’t upgrade a Hyper V cluster. You must build a new one because you cant have different version nodes in the same cluster. The cluster migration Wizard in Hyper V/Windows requires down time. 2012 R2 does support Live Migration between cluster versions (2012 to 2012 R2), but you still need a new cluster. Your options are add more hardware or bust a current cluster by removing a node then using that node for a new cluster. Upgrades with Hyper V are complex and very very long in comparison to Vmware.

    Vmware supports cluster upgrades, because you can run different versions on cluster nodes after you upgrade your vCenter.

    Another topic is management tools. True day to day management of a Hyper V environment beyond a SMB single host model requires SCVMM, Fail Over Cluster Manager, and even Hyper V manager today with 2012 if you want to use all of the features like “Live Migration with out shared storage”. During outages this 3 tool management is a problematic at best and SCVMM often becomes un-usable in any kind of major problem with cluster nodes. If you want extra monitoring then you need SCOM as well.

    Vmware uses a single tool (vcenter client or the web interface) for everything. The plugins from vmware and 3rd party vendors (storage, server hardware etc) are much better with VMware. They are practically nonexistent for SCVMM.

    I wont go into driver management (where do you get drivers for Windows, server provider, Microsoft, or actual component vendor???? vs once source for VMware) or out of band patches (hot fixes) that are many with Hyper V and there is no tool to go out and find them, you must hunt them down. General confusion amongst the Hyper V tools…a snap shot is a snap shot in Hyper V manager but a check point in SCVMM???? SCVMM is crazy slow/sluggish compared to vCenter. Changes made in FOC/Hyper V manager take forever to show up in SCVMM…because of to many tools.

    The new vCenter 5.5 appliance is finally a real option (500 hosts 5000 VM’s) to running Windows vCenter on top of MS SQL on another box.

    • I couldn’t agree more, all your comments are valid but I have no idea how to include them (and all other side notes and caveats) to this comparison without making it a huge document. Besides that such a document requires constant updating and I have a full time job, this blogging was supposed to be a hobby 😉

      I will think about this but in the meantime we will have to do with meaningful comments like yours above.

  • Anthony COSTESEQUE

    vSphere 5.5 is GA but not available anywhere (09/16/2013), HyperV 2012 R2 is not GA but available … strange lol 😀

  • César García

    Some of the values for RHEV 3.2 differ from the RedHat datasheet, available here http://www.redhat.com/resourcelibrary/datasheets/rhev-3-2-feature-guide

    I could identify differences at least in the following areas: max virtual processors [unknown to 2048], max memory support 2 Tb / 3 Tb], hot add support [nic disk / cpu, memory, nic, disk]

    Thanks for creating this document. It’s quite useful to check features at a glance.

  • Thank you Cesar, I updated the document to reflect these new values. I’ve changed ‘Host max memory’ from 2TB to 3TB, ‘Hot add support’ to include CPU and memory. With regard to the ‘Max virtual processors’ this is actually not 2048 but unlimited according to page 2 of the document you provided by e-mail. Version 5.6 is online now.