In this article, we’ll compare Hyper-V vs. VMware to help you decide which virtualization software may be best for your next project.

What is Server VIrtualization?

If you are new to the discussion on Hyper-V and VMware, you may be wondering, what is server virtualization and why are businesses shifting to virtualized environments?

At its core, server virtualization involves taking a physical server and installing server virtualization software which allows the server resources to be split up into separate “virtual” environments. These environments are called containers and operate their own isolated Operating System that is distinct from the host server.

This process of creating separate environments for each container has a variety of benefits:

Benefits of Server Virtualization

  • Instantly deploy pre-defined containers which contain a part or all of an application
  • Leverage the server resources of dozens or hundreds of servers in a single click
  • Migrate containers between physical hardware to evenly distribute resources
  • Prioritize server resources to certain containers when demand spikes

Server Virtualization Example

A large mail server is a great example of the perfect candidate for a virtualized environment. This platform has a variety of moving parts from IMAP servers, SMTP servers, spam filtering, serving webmail, etc. As new users are migrated to the platform, additional resources may need to be deployed to the cluster to handle the increased load. A virtualized environment allows server admins to instantly deploy new containers as needed to handle this load.

What is VMware vSphere?

While VMware offers a variety of virtualization applications to choose from, when server providers refer to VMware, they are typically referring to the vSphere software designed by VMware.

vSphere is a server virtualization software which allows businesses to deploy applications in containers. This approach allows you to distribute workloads across hundreds of servers and prioritize resources to ensure optimal application performance.

What Versions of VMWare vSphere Are Available?

  • VMWare ESXi: The hypervisor which runs the VMWare vSphere application. It is free, but requires a vSphere license to perform  container management that most organizations would require.
  • vSphere Essential Kit: Ideal for small businesses with 3 or less ESXi hosts that have 2 processors or less on each server.
  • VMWare vSphere Standard: ​​​​
  • VMWare vSphere Enterprise: Introduces additional features for load balancing, resource monitoring, and fault tolerance.
  • VMWare vSphere Platinum: This version adds more feature which may be beneficial for larger organizations such as Integration with Third-Party Security Operations Tools.

A complete feature comparison can be found here.

VMWare System Requirements

In order to run VMware vSphere, your server must have at least two CPU cores with 4GB of RAM and a processor which has Intel VT-x or AMD RVI supported and enabled. 8GB of RAM is recommended for production environments and note that virtual servers require more RAM due to the overhead of the VMware software.

Product NameCPURAMVT-x or AMD RVINetwork
VMWare ESXi2 CPU Cores4GBSupported and Enabled1Gbps
vSphere Standard / Enterprise / Platinum2 CPU Cores4GBSupported and Enabled1Gbps

Disk space requirements will depend upon the number of containers you wish to run and the Operating Systems / files stored on each, but you should try and store the containers on a seperate disk than the drive running the VMware software.

VMware offers a hardware compatibility tool which will be helpful in determining if your hardware can run VMware.

How much does VMWare Cost?

VMware offers a variety of vSphere licenses depending on business requirements. A license is required for each physical CPU core depending on the license selected.

  • For those on a budget, vSphere essential kit is currently $510 USD and provides basic virtualization for server consolidation. This license supports up to 3 servers with up to 2 processors each.
  • VMware vSphere Standard is $910 USD per license
  • VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus is $3595 USD per license and introduces additional features for resource prioritization and application performance enhancements such as network and I/O monitoring

What is Hyper-V?

Hyper-V is Microsoft’s answer to hardware virtualization. While there is a version of Hyper-V available for Windows 10, this article focuses on Hyper-V for Windows Server, which would be of most interest to those looking for virtualization in a business environment.

Hyper-V has many of the same features as VMware, allowing administrators to create many containers on one physical server to improve workload efficiencies and reduce hardware costs.

Hyper-V System Requirements

In order to run Hyper-V, you must have a 64-bit Processor with Second Level Address Translation which supports virtualization and at least 4GB of memory. Hyper-V can be enabled on Windows 10 Enterprise,  Pro, and Education editions.

Users can verify hardware compatibility by running the command systeminfo in the command prompt. This command will output all of the Hyper-V requirements as “Yes” if the requirements are met.

How much does Hyper-V Cost?

Hyper-V licensing is included in the cost of the Windows Server or Windows Hyper-V Server, so the cost depends on which version you select. For example, we offer Windows Server 2016 for $25/month and Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition for $125/month. Using the standard version of Windows Server, you can deploy two virtual machines using Hyper-V and the Data Center Edition allows an unlimited number of virtual machines to be deployed.

For managing large container deployments, you will need a container management software to connect to Hyper-V. Microsoft offers System Center 2016, which is available for $3,607 on a two year license for an unlimited number of containers.

Keep in mind that you will also need to license the operating system running on each container if you are running Windows containers, which is an additional cost to consider.

Comparing Hyper-V to VMware Pricing

Choosing between Hyper-V and VMware is largely dependant on what your container requirements are and how many physical servers you will be managing. Hyper-V will likely be a more affordable options if you plan on running Linux containers as you can create an unlimited number of containers using the $125/month Data Center Edition.

Small Deployment

Number of Physical Servers3 servers with 2 processors3 servers with 2 processors
Host Licensing Costs$4,625.00 for VMware vSphere Essentials Plus Kit$375/month for Windows Server Data Center Edition
Control Panel Licensing Costs$1,535.00 for vCenter Foundation$3,607 for a 2 year licenses of System Center Data Center Edition
Other CostsAny licensing fees of container OS.Any licensing fees of container OS.

Larger Deployment

Number of Physical Servers20 servers with 2 processors each and 16 cores.20 servers with 2 processors each and 16 cores.
Host Licensing Costs$143,800 for 40 licenses of vSphere Standard$2500/month for Windows Server  2016 Data Center Edition
Control Panel Licensing Costs$6,175.00 for vCenter Standard$144,280 for 40 licenses of vCenter Data Center Edition
Other CostsAny licensing fees of container OS.Any licensing fees of container OS.

As pricing is largely based on the number of processors and CPU cores your deployment may contain, your actual pricing costs may vary.

Comparing Hyper-V to VMware Features

For nearly every feature that Hyper-V has, VMware has a comparable solution and vice-versa. But there are a few features that are unique to each platform:

VMware Features

  • VMware vMotion provides seamless migration of containers between clusters without having to configure additional software
  • VMware offers more memory management tools than HYper-V to achieve memory compression, page sharing, etc.

Hyper-V Features

  • As a Microsoft product, many users have reported that support for Windows guest OSes is superior to VMware
  • Support for up to 12TB of RAM per VM (whereas VMware only supports 6TB)

In Summary: Should You Choose Hyper-V or VMware?

As you can see, there is no easy answer to this question without first compiling a list of your hardware requirements and business objectives. One platform may be more affordable than the other or offer features that are required to meet your needs.

We recommend booking an expert server consultation so we can review your requirements and find the best solution for you.