Microsoft VDI on Hyper-V is half the cost of VMware, making virtual desktops even cheaper than PC refresh. But many still think Hyper-V still lags behind VMware technically. As the EBook, 6 Reasons Why VDI with Hyper-V and RDS is Poised for Takeoff explains, that's no longer the case. My recent blog comparing Hyper-V dynamic memory and VMware memory overcommitment is an example of how, when it comes to VDI workloads, Hyper-V may actually be surpassing VMware.
Here's another data point. Hyper-V now offers built-in data deduplication that radically reduces space requirements for both non-persistent AND persistent virtual desktop use cases - something you used to have to pay big bucks to get. This blog takes a closer look.
There has been buzz about Hyper-V’s data dedupe feature ever since Microsoft first leaked word it was available as part of Windows Server 2012 R2. The opportunity to cut space requirements for VDI 85-95% (see Windows Server TechNet document "Plan to Deploy Data Deduplication") excited a lot of customers.
To provide some background, data deduplication is a method of reducing storage needs by eliminating redundant data. Only one unique instance of the data is actually retained on storage media, such as disk or tape, and redundant data is replaced with a pointer to the unique data instance.
Microsoft first introduced data deduplication for NTFS file systems in Windows Server 2012. With the release of Windows Server 2012 R2, this feature was greatly improved to offer significant benefits for virtual environments, especially virtual desktop workloads.
The use of dedupe with virtual hard disks (VHDs) in VDI environments can result in substantial capacity savings as well as more consistent, higher-performance I/O response. Fixed VHD files typically have a common operating system (usually Windows) and other bits in common. As VDI and the number of VHDs (including VM template libraries and ISO file shares) scale, this common data gets stored over and over.
Microsoft's deduplication feature saves significant disk space by storing the common bits only once. An added benefit is that when a volume with live VHDs is deduplicated, forcing all I/O to hit the common blocks, these common blocks become "hot." Windows will move these frequently used "hot" blocks to Tier 1 storage - typically solid-state or cache memory. The result is significantly greater performance, since the majority of I/O will now be served from your highest-performing storage.
VMware is a proven hypervisor that works well for many Unidesk customers. In fact, our next two customer webinars - Montgomery County, Pennsylvania with 3,000 users and North Bend Medical Center with 600 users - are both very happy running Unidesk and VMware Horizon on vSphere.
But, if you're looking to significantly cut the costs of delivering Windows desktops and apps - even compared to physical PCs - you should take another look at Unidesk and Microsoft VDI on Hyper-V. You'll be able to offer users complete mobility, with access to Windows apps anytime, anywhere. You'll make app delivery, patching, break/fix, and image management a lot easier for your IT team. And you'll sacrifice nothing with your hypervisor. You may even gain some technical advantages!
If you have questions or thoughts, comment below - I'd love to hear them.