A Comparison between Vsphere and HyperV, from a XenDesktop VDI POV

Your VDI is XenDesktop and you’re comparing vSphere and HyperV before deciding which one to go with. Which one of these hypervisors is preferable? It’s a tricky decision, requiring quite a lot of research and thought. Or does it…?

Consider the VDI’s common denominator
For those using VMware View, there is no real dilemma because it only works with vSphere. Similarly, Microsoft’s VDI (RDS) only works with HyperV, so again, no need to sit around like Rodin’s “Thinker” and ponder, as your choice has essentially been made for you. However, the more agnostic and flexible Citrix XenDesktop works with both vSphere, HyperV and XenServer.

So for XenDesktop deployments, let’s look at new updated features recently released by both hypervisors to help you choose a platform:


How much of Microsoft’s HyperV is actually worth considering? Given the new 2016 release, do the features stand up to close inspection? And from a business perspective, is it economically worthwhile? Here’s a list of key features and an explanation about how they complement XenDesktop:

    • Nano Server: provided out-of-the-box with a core installation of HyperV, omitting some basic Windows features deemed non-essential and allowing XenDesktop to increase the density of VMs per host.
    • Windows Containers: a new feature that allows admins to reserve resources for specific apps to run side by side on VDI machines without affecting each other.
  • Guest OS Licensing: this very shrewd business advantage permits OS licenses to an unlimited number of Windows guests (when using the Datacenter edition).
  • Nested Virtualization: the optimal solution when deploying virtual machines with a virtual machine. For example, in a classroom where each student needs to run lab servers within her/her own machine.

Going Round in Circles?
VMware’s vSphere, as mentioned, is the market leader and offers fairly comprehensive central management capabilities with VMware vCenter. The latest version, vSphere 6, also has attractive and differential features worth considering:

  • vGPU: out-of-the-box support for virtual GPU – Nvidia’s grid delivers comprehensive benefits of the physical Nvidia to virtual environments, providing VDI accessibility for CAD applications and graphic-intense apps via XenDesktop.
  • vSAN: major VDI scalability (storage acceleration) using virtual SAN.
  • Maximums: greatly increased maximum units for virtual machines, which can now support up to 128 virtual CPUs (vCPUs) and 4TB virtual RAM (vRAM). Additionally, hosts can now support up to 480 CPU and 12TB of RAM, 1,024 virtual machines per host and 64 nodes per cluster.
  • Fault Tolerance: support for fault tolerance has been expanded to four virtual CPUs, which means users can have machines at 100% of availability via XenDesktop – a point of particular importance to super VIP users.

What’s the bottom line?

While vSphere is the leading hypervisor platform from a global perspective, HyperV is quickly catching up in sales figures and popularity. vSphere has the advantage in terms of scalability, but in terms of security both products hold all the required certification and capabilities. Both products are also about the same in terms of cost effectiveness, although the aggressive promotion of unlimited free Windows licensing may give Microsoft HyperV some sort of an edge in this. The bottom line is that this decision is about your company’s greater priorities, together with your specific needs and requirements.