Hyper-V vs. vSphere storage types

Hyper-V vs. vSphere storage type support: How do the two platforms differ?

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Microsoft's Hyper-V and VMware Inc.'s vSphere have many similarities but also several differences when it comes to supported storage. As a general rule, Hyper-V is much more flexible with regard to the types of storage that it supports, because it's built into the Windows operating system; vSphere, meanwhile, has a fuller range of enterprise-level storage management functionality, though Microsoft is making strides to level that playing field with Hyper-V version 3.0.

Drilling down into that a bit, Hyper-V is able to store virtual hard drives and other virtual server components on pretty much any storage that is accessible to Windows. This means that the files can reside locally on SATA, SAS or solid-state storage, or they can reside on remote storage that is connected using Fibre Channel or iSCSI.

VSphere storage support also includes local and remote devices, but the requirements tend to be a bit more rigid. VSphere does not allow you to store virtual machines within a random folder on an NTFS partition the way that Hyper-V does. Instead, vSphere requires you to create a data store to accommodate virtual machines.

It is also worth noting that vSphere 4 has very limited support for SATA drives, so organizations that are using vSphere 4 will almost always have to use either SAS drives or remotely connected types of storage. VSphere 5 has much better support for SATA drives than vSphere 4 did and is consequently more flexible than vSphere 4 in terms of storage.

This was first published in October 2012

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