Hyper-V Manager ^
Hyper-V Manager is Microsoft's tool that comes bundled with the Hyper-V role. You can use it to manage virtual machines (VMs) running on local or remote Hyper-V hosts.
Pros of Hyper-V Manager
These are the main pros of Hyper-V Manager:
- It is available for free as a part of Microsoft's Hyper-V management tools for both Windows Server and Windows 10/11.
- Being a built-in tool, it is stable and performs well.
- You can create and manage local and remote VMs, VM checkpoints, VHDs, virtual switches, and replication; that is, essentially every feature that Hyper-V supports.
- You can authenticate with credentials other than your local account to connect to a remote Hyper-V host using either the host's DNS name or IP address.
- You can export and import VMs, which can also serve as a basic way to back up VMs.
Cons of Hyper-V Manager
Although Hyper-V manager is a great tool for small virtualization environments, there are a few downsides:
- Deleting a VM in Hyper-V Manager does not actually delete the corresponding virtual hard disk files (VHDs), requiring manual cleanup by the admin.
- It lacks advanced features, such as the ability to create Hyper-V clusters and automatic VM creation. Although it can recognize clustered hosts, certain operations (e.g., modify VHDs) aren't supported on clustered VMs.
- It only supports Hyper-V hosts; that is, you cannot manage VMware ESXi or Citrix XenServer hosts. Thus, it is not an option for heterogeneous virtualization environments.
PowerShell is a great Hyper-V management tool for admins who are more inclined toward the command line and scripts. PowerShell remoting makes it easier for admins to manage multiple Hyper-V hosts remotely and to automate workflows using scripts. PowerShell Direct (running PowerShell inside a virtual machine from the Hyper-V host) takes it to the next level by allowing you to manage Windows guest VMs without any prior network configuration.
Pros of PowerShell
Below are some pros of using PowerShell to manage Hyper-V:
- PowerShell is free, preinstalled, and fully integrated with Hyper-V and Windows.
- Because PowerShell is also a scripting language, you can essentially automate any management task that is not supported by GUI tools.
- The CLI's cross-platform support makes it easier for admins to remotely work with Hyper-V hosts that are running non-Windows guest VMs (such as Linux).
- Command-line tools are usually fast, less buggy, and less prone to crashes compared to GUI tools.
Cons of PowerShell
As with any tool, there are also cons. Let's have a look at the downside of using PowerShell as a Hyper-V management tool.
- As it is a command-line tool, there is a steep learning curve for admins who are more inclined toward GUI tools.
- PowerShell remoting requires manual configuration of Hyper-V hosts and VMs.
- PowerShell Direct only works with guest VMs running Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 or above on Hyper-V hosts.
Windows Admin Center ^
Windows Admin Center is a free browser-based tool that can be downloaded from the Microsoft evaluation center. You can install it either on a Windows server or on a domain-joined Windows 10/11 computer. If installed on a server, it acts as a gateway, allowing multiple admins in your organization to manage Hyper-V hosts and other devices without affecting any licensing cost.
Pros of Windows Admin Center
- It is an integrated toolset to manage Hyper-V hosts, Hyper-V clusters, Azure Stack HCI, Windows Servers, Windows workstations, and Azure VMs—everything in one place.
- It enables multiple admins in an organization to manage Hyper-V hosts easily using a web browser.
- It leverages the underlying Windows technologies (PowerShell, WMI, and WMF) and doesn't require any agent installation on the hosts.
- You can optionally configure it to manage your hosts from anywhere in the world over the Internet in a secure manner.
- It supports modern authentication methods and role-based access management, giving you fine-grained control over who can access what.
- It also allows you to use extensions to add features and capabilities.
Cons of Windows Admin Center
In my view, there are no real drawbacks to using Windows Admin Center as a Hyper-V management tool. However, there are some known issues that are sometimes hard to troubleshoot, particularly in workgroup environments without Active Directory. If you believe that Windows Admin Center has downsides, let me know in the comments.
System Center Virtual Machine Manager ^
System Center is a commercial data center management suite from Microsoft that contains a Hyper-V management tool named Virtual Machine Manager (VMM), sometimes referred to as System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM). VMM is not available as a separate product. It can also be used for Hyper-V management, but it is meant to be used by large-scale heterogeneous deployments comprising different types of hypervisors, such as Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESXi, and Citrix XenServer.
Pros of SCVMM
Below are a few pros of SCVMM:
- It offers all the basic and advanced features needed to manage Hyper-V hosts and clusters under a single management plane. It is not limited to Hyper-V but can also effectively manage ESXI and XenServer hypervisors.
- Its integrated physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion enables you to virtualize physical servers or machines easily.
- It allows rapid deployment and migration with the use of VM templates. Admins can create and deploy VMs in bulk, which is a must-have feature if you have to manage many VMs.
- It provides centralized monitoring and reporting, which gives admins a broad view of the entire data center server infrastructure.
Cons of SCVMM
Below are some cons from the point of view of small- and medium-sized organizations:
- Buying the entire System Center suite might be too expensive for your organization if you only need it to manage Hyper-V.
- There are heavy hardware and software requirements for running SCVMM.
- The complexity of the product requires that admins invest more time in learning to use the tool.
- SCVMM requires an agent to be installed on each host that you want to manage.
ProHVM by Probus IT ^
ProHVM is a commercial Hyper-V management tool that allows you to administer any version of Hyper-V, whether it is running on Windows Server, Server Core, Windows 10/11, or a bare-metal Hyper-V Server. The Professional license needs to be purchased for each Hyper-V host that you want to manage, whereas the Technician license allows one user to manage an unlimited number of Hyper-V hosts. The ProHVM Standard version is completely free for personal and commercial use.
Pros of ProHVM
- It supports the management of Hyper-V hosts across domains and workgroups using different sets of credentials.
- The Standard version is free for commercial use with a limited set of features. The commercial version is also more cost effective than many other Hyper-V management tools.
- The tool allows you to manage files and folders on remote hosts.
- It includes cVM, which is an excellent alternative to VMConnect.exe or the RDP client. With cVM, you can use parameters to create shortcuts or login scripts to connect to VMs easily.
- It offers advanced features, such as export and import of VMs, storage migration, cluster support, live migration, and Hyper-V Replica.
Cons of ProHVM
- It is a traditional desktop application that requires installation on every admin workstation. There is no central install option or web browser support.
- By using a third-party product, you may have second thoughts about reliability, security, and support.
Igiko Management Tools ^
Igiko Management Tools is another commercial web-based application that you can use to manage and monitor Hyper-V hosts and VMs remotely. You can install it on a Windows machine and then use a web browser to manage your Hyper-V hosts remotely, which means that you can run it from Windows, Linux, or macOS.
Pros of Igiko Management Tools
- It is a lightweight browser-based tool giving multiple admins management access to Hyper-V hosts and VMs remotely without needing an installation on every admin workstation.
- It features the ability to connect guest VMs in an HTML5-based RDP console using a web browser.
- It allows you to transfer files between local and remote hosts.
- The embedded remote gateway enables you to connect and manage your Hyper-V hosts and VMs from anywhere over the Internet. The secure web tunnel doesn't even require a static IP address or DNS.
- It offers a live view of Hyper-V hosts and guest VMs, providing information about parameters such as real-time CPU usage, memory, uptime, and OS version.
- It features a claims-based authentication model for Windows users and groups.
- You can assign permissions to Hyper-V hosts and VMs to individual users or groups.
Cons of Igiko Management Tools
- The initial connection to remote hosts or VMs can be tricky, and errors are sometimes hard to troubleshoot.
- The HTML5 RDP console has been buggy in the past and occasionally has screen scaling issues.
- Many of its features are available in Hyper-V Manager.
Which Hyper-V management tool is best for your organization very much depends on your network size and, of course, your budget. In my opinion, if you work for a small company with dozens of Hyper-V hosts to manage, Hyper-V Manager (perhaps coupled with Failover Cluster Manager) will work very well for all your management needs. If you don't like Hyper-V Manager, you should check out ProHVM, which is an excellent third-party alternative and offers great value for money.
If you're a medium-sized enterprise having hundreds of Hyper-V hosts, Windows Admin Center can help you manage them effectively without any additional licensing cost.
Managed service providers (MSPs) and large organizations often license System Center, and VMM is therefore a natural choice for their enterprise networks.
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I am curious to know which Hyper-V management tool you use and why.