A Brief Comparison of Features Between VMware and Hyper-V (Guest Blogger)

A few months ago Chris Childerhose, a consultant and MCITP with a local Microsoft Partner, impressed me when the afternoon of Day 5 of my class on Windows Server Virtualization (10215A) he sat the exam 70-659 and scored a perfect 1000.  He has since gone on to pass the remaining exams to earn the certification Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Virtualization Administrator 2008 R2.  As an advocate of Microsoft virtualization he was asked to put together a comparison to vSphere 4.1.  This is what he came up with.

Microsoft Hyper-V – Bundled Virtualization Software

clip_image002With Microsoft’s Hyper-V you can consolidate many servers down to fewer physical servers without compromising on services.  Hyper-V allows for the consolidation of multiple server instances as separate virtual machines running on a single physical machine (the Virtualization Host).

So how does Hyper-V compare to VMware, the de facto standard for virtualization? Microsoft has made great improvements to Hyper-V and with the latest release (2008 R2 SP1 has added many features that can be found in VMware.  This list outlines many of them:


vSphere 4.1

Hyper-V 2008 R2

Bare-metal Hypervisor imageESX/ESXi imageHyper-V
Centralized Hypervisor Management imageVirtual Center Server imageSystem Center Virtual Machine Manager
cross-platform hypervisor management imageNone imageSystem Center Virtual Machine Manager
virtual machine backup imageVCB  or 3rd party products imageWindows Server Backup, System Center Data Protection Manager, or 3rd party products
High Availability / Failover image(Via Virtual Center Server) imageFailover Cluster Manager
VM Migration imagevMotion (Via Virtual Center Server, Enterprise Plus) imageLive Migration
Storage Live Migration image(Via Virtual Center Server, Enterprise Plus) imageNo
Guest OS patching/management image(Via Virtual Center Server – not in next version) imageWindows Server Update Services (WSUS)
End-to-end OS monitoring imageNone image(via System Center Operations Manager)
Host/VM level optimization imageDRS (Via Virtual Center Server, Enterprise Plus) imagePRO (via System Center Operations Manager)
Application/service monitoring imageNone imagePRO (via System Center Operations Manager)
Integrated physical and virtual management imageNone imageSystem Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012, System Center Configuration Manager


There are differences in the products with VMware having some features that Hyper-V does not have, and vice versa. With Microsoft’s Server Management Suite Enterprise (SMSE) products like SCVMM (Service Center Virtual Machine Manager), OpsMgr (Service Center Operations Manager), and ConfigMgr (System Center Configuration Manager) you can monitor and administer not only the virtualization environment, but also the virtual machine operating systems, host operating systems, and the physical hardware much more richly and robustly than the VMware products can.

The Hyper-V role is available in all versions of Windows 2008 R2, as well as with the free Hyper-V Server 2008 R2. Guest OS licensing for the operating system does not favour either platform, because the Virtual Licensing Model that Microsoft released with Server 2003 R2 applies to both platforms.  The licensing is “1 + N” which means that based on the version of Windows 2008 you purchase you can run “N” virtual machines.

· Windows 2008 Standard – 1 + 1 virtual machine

· Windows 2008 Enterprise – 1 + 4 virtual machines

· Windows 2008 Datacenter – 1 + Unlimited virtual machines

While there is no difference on licensing, there is a huge difference with regard to the cost of the platform.  VMware does offer a free hypervisor (ESXi) but in order to use any of the advanced features (vMotion, DRS, etc…) you have to purchase licenses for it.  As well VMware is sold on a per-CPU basis, and with a ‘core tax’ for CPUs with more than six cores per CPU.

Microsoft also has the Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 which is a dedicated standalone product and contains only the Hyper-V role, Windows Server driver model and virtualization components. No additional license is required to use any of the advanced features, which can be implemented using tools such as Failover Cluster Manager.

One last major difference is to the certification program for each.  In order to become a VMware Certified Professional (VCP) you must take a one week class (which the instructor can decide to pass or fail you) and then take the exam.  In order to achieve any of the Microsoft certifications you can take a class, or you can choose to learn the technology on your own, and then sit the exam.

For further information on Windows 2008 R2 with Hyper-V please visit – http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/hyperv-main.aspx

For further information on Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 please visit – http://www.microsoft.com/hyper-v-server/en/us/default.aspx


4 responses to “A Brief Comparison of Features Between VMware and Hyper-V (Guest Blogger)”

  1. I work with both platforms and i do agree with most of the blog post, one issues is that your facts in the chart are misleading and not correct.

    i have a few examples but ill just state one

    One line – VM Migration

    you state that you need enterprise plus to be able to migrate vm’s that is not correct, you can use standard to accomplish this.

    Over all i think the blog post is accurate but a little bias and misleading if you are not familur with the product.

    1. Hi M,

      Firstly you are right… I am bit biased 🙂 However I didn’t write the article, and I’m afraid I didn’t proof-read the table very carefully. I don’t think a lot of it is misleading, but there are a couple of inaccuracies which I will try to address this week.
      According to the table that I have on a slide deck I have from VMTraining you do need Enterprise Plus for vMotion… I will do my best to confirm that, but they are usually VERY good about these things.
      Thanks for reading… I’d be happy to publish a counter-article from the other point of view if you’d like to write it 🙂

  2. I have seen a bit too many of these biased comparisons of vSphere versus Hyper-V. It is like comparing apples and oranges. You mention the advantages of apples (can be eaten without having a knife) but forget to mention the advantages of the orange (nice orange juice, more vitamines). That is biased.
    If you are comparing both solutions equal you should mention features like distributed virtual switches, simplicity of enabling high availability and DRS, storage i/o control, fault tolerance, VAAI, easy to see performance data, no performance impact on thin provisioned disk for VMware, production ready snapshots etc etc. I can make a long list of advanced and very usefull features which vSphere offers and Hyper-V lacks.
    Do not take the marketing stuff of Microsoft for granted but do you own analyzes.

    About the certification VCP or Microsoft exams. What do you think has more value? Being at least four days in a classroom playing with a product of studying the braindumps by head (as some do).

    As far as I know a SCOM license is not included in your purchase of Windows Server+Hyper-V role. Virtual machines running on vSphere can just as well be monitored using SCOM. Same for the ESX hosts with third party tooling.

    As mentioned earlier, vMotion is available in one of the cheapest editions of VMware vSphere called Essentials Plus (limited to three hosts) or Standard Edition.

    1. You make some valid points, and I disagree with you on others. I have no problem with you providing the VMware side of the argument (and will approve your comment word for word) but don’t think you can say that the VMware cert is worth more because some people use Brain Dumps to pass MS exams… Most people with the MCTS worked damned hard to earn their credential, and a good number of them take the course to do so but frankly I also know a lot of people who know the technology without taking the course, and shouldn’t be penalized for it.

      System Center Operations Manager and Virtual Machine Manager do add a lot of the functionality to Hyper-V, no doubt. They would do the same for ESX. However vMotion is available for free for up to sixteen hosts in a failover cluster… no inexpensive tools required.

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