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Virtualization (Last updated: 16-04- 2010)

Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V VS VMware vSphere


Queries the following Comparison is trying to Answer:


VMware vSphere VS Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V

VMware ESX 4 Versus MS Hyper V R2

How does MS Windows Hyper-V  compare to VMware vSphere?

Advantages & Disadvantages of Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V & VMware vSphere

What is better VMware ESX 4 or MS Windows Hyper-V R2? How?

Independent Unbiased Comparison MS Windows Hyper-V R2 & VMware ESX 4.0


VMware ESX 4 VS MS Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V Introduction:


Ok, decided on riding the virtualization boat and confused on the right product for your company. You are in the correct place as here we list the comparisons of most of the popular virtualization solutions. On this page we will compare Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V vs VMware vSphere, but other comparisons are available and you can choose them from the menu on the left panel. As Microsoft Windows 2008 R2 & VMware vSphere has been reaching every IT Manager/Admin & the great number of hits  our MS Hyper-V vs VMware VI3 has got & the many requests to to update this comparison. We had worked hard on testing the full release of MS Hyper-V R2 & Compare it to VMware vSphere & updated the comparison below accordingly. If you are coming back for our Vi3 comparison you still can find it at: VMware ESX vs MS Windows 2008 Hyper-V.


Below is our unbiased comparison of MS Hyper-V vs VMware vSphere. Please note this comparison look at the full fledge of both servers not the lightened editions Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 & VMware ESXi editions, though it will point out to them when required. Another comparison of the lightened editions will be available soon. Though you can find the earlier versions comparisons of the lightened versions at: VMware ESXi vs Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008. The reason behind not mixing the lightened & the full fledge product in one comparison is to eliminate any confusion can be caused by mixing up between the two versions of each product.


  VMware/EMC Microsoft

ITComparison Comments VMware site is a bit easier to browse in regards of virtualization than Microsoft site due to the fact its their core business, in compare with Microsoft with tons of products.
Product Name VMware vSphere 4 Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V
ITComparison Comments Please note these are the full fledge versions of both VMware ESX & Hyper-V. As mentioned in the introduction above we will not cover the slimmer version of both products. That will be left to another comparison.

Pricing range











Management Cost

VMware vSphere Standard $795 per CPU


VMware vSphere Advanced  $2245 per CPU


VMware vSphere Enterprise $2875 per CPU


VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus $3495 per CPU


Virtual vCenter server $4995 to manage the full infrastructure

Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard $1,209 per Host


Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise $3,999 per Host


Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter $2,999 per Host




System Center Server Management Suite Datacenter (SMSD)  $1,498 per processor

ITComparison Comments










-: MS Windows Hyper-V 2005 R2 VS VMware VI3:-

We had a large debate internally on how to post the prices of both products & on which base to compare them. We have almost got to the point we were about to exclude pricing from the comparison. Though at the end we decided to include the Windows 2008 pricing in our equation, as there is no way you can run MS Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V without paying for Windows 2008 R2 License. Don't jump at us yet, but we are not covering ESXi neither Hyper-V 2008 R2 Server in this comparison, where both of them are a free product so the word free was left out of both products in this comparison. We believe that shall be fair enough


Please don't get mislead by the word Hyper-V is free, as its not always that way. If you are going to use MS Windows 2008 R2 Hyper-V, you will always have to pay for the Windows 2008 R2 OS even if you are are planning to only run Linux or Windows 2003 where you are not going to use that license for anything else.


- Another important side of the cost of Hyper-V Virtualization Solution & VMware virtualization which usually get ignored is the management application cost. VMware has Virtual Center for one fixed cost of Virtual center for $4995 and can manage unlimited hosts, where with MS to get the same functionality you will need to get System Center Management Suite Enterprise which cost $1498 per CPU. So the management hidden cost for Hyper-V will depend on how many servers your virtualization infrastructure will have. It can go quite steep hidden cost with hyper-V.


- When it coming to cost, you should compare the versions which give you the features you need of both products. If you require all the Hyper-V features, then your equivalent to that will be VMware ESX advanced, as the feature in the VMware Enterprise & Enterprise Plus is still not available at any version in Hyper-v. Furthermore, the advanced version has some features that is not available in Hyper-v, but its the least version that has the full equivalent features to Hyper-V.


In addition, in VMware vSphere you can run more virtual machines on the same specs machine as VMware offer memory over commitment and waste less resource than Microsoft Hyper-V solution in most cases. Don't let the initial cost per host fool you. Make sure you calculate your cost per VM or preferably by service, not per initial cost of each host. Remember your business require services not virtualization hosts & will check the cost per the service provided, not per Virtualization Host. It does not matter for them if you have obtained the Virtualization host for a cheaper price, but end up costing them more per service. For example, if your first virtualization solution host cost you $8,000 where the second solution cost you $10,000 per host where the first solution require 10 hosts to run the solution & the second solution require only 7 hosts to run the solution. You will find the second solution to be more cost effective although its more expensive per host.


- If you are getting one thing of the cost comparison then let it be to do a TCO per service study of the solution you are going for instead of just the initial cost of your Virtualization hosts. Make sure you calculate the management tools & maintenance of the solutions you are deciding on as these are going to be your real cost. Another great thing is to always ask for a proof of concept for the different solutions, as that usually will make calculating your ROI & TCO more realistic.

Primary usage Production Environment

sneaking into production, but for most companies still at testing & development environment.

ITComparison Comments

After the release of MS Windows server HyperV R2, HyperV started sneaking into the production of enterprise companies. Its not nearly as spread as VMware into the enterprise production environment, but it started to show up.


In the other side VMware have captured the major share of the virtualization solutions used in  production environment for a while.

 Host Specifications

Supported CPUs       64-bit Intel/AMD  64-bit Intel-VT/AMD-V capable CPU
ITComparison Comments

Hyper-V R2 require an Intel-VT/AMD-V capable CPU, where VMware ESX 4.0 does not require it unless you need to run 64-bit VMs on it. That allow you to run VMware ESX 4 over a relatively older servers than possible with Hyper-V. An example of these servers would be IBM X346, which support 64-bit but does not have Intel-VT. X346 is capable of running VMware ESX 4, but not Hyper-V. Its worth noticing in case you are planning to re-use servers of that generation in your virtualization environment.

Logical Processors/host       64  64
Memory Supported      1TB  1TB
Max allowed Failover Nodes      32  16
Running guest/host      320  384
Running guest/ cluster node     160  64
I/O Devices Supported IDE, SCSI, SAS, SATA, FC, 1Gb
and 10Gb Ethernet, iSCSI, NFS,
FCOE, Infiniband
IDE, SCSI, SAS, SATA, FC, 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet, iSCSI, CIFS, FCOE, Infiniband
Memory over-commitment    Yes  No
Transparent Page Sharing    Yes  No
ITComparison Comments

Most of the host specifications numbers above are very close, & you might not even need to reach most of these limits.


Though it is important to note the memory over-commitment & Transparent Page Sharing in VMware is claimed to allow you to run VMs with up to twice the amount of the memory in your system. In most environments 1.6 memory over-commitment ratio is quite achievable. Memory over-commitment & Transparent Page Sharing can cut the number of required hosts to run your environment.

Supported Hardware Refer to VMware supported Hardware list. Most hardware that supported by Windows 2008 is supported by Hyper-V.
Used Drivers Specialized Virtualization Drivers General Windows 2008 Drivers
Storage Multi-pathing Supported Out of the box Depend on the HBA & storage vendor.
Network card teaming Supported out of the box. Depend on the Network Card Vendor
ITComparison Comments

When it come to supported hardware & used drivers, VMware & Microsoft has followed a totally different path. There is a tradeoff for each approach. While Microsoft Hyper-V R2 support more hardware as it support every piece of Hardware that MS Windows 2008 R2 support, there is a large trade off for that they use a general operating system drivers. The problem with the general operating system drivers its totally dependant on the hardware vendor & at many cases can tear windows unstable. Its well-known that the major some of windows crashes are due to a bad hardware driver. In addition, a generic operating system driver is not always optimized to run a virtualization load.


As MS Hyper-V R2 is totally dependant on the hardware vendor in providing their drivers, the availability of NIC Teaming & multipathing support is highly dependant on your hardware vendor.


VMware has used a different approach, where they have integrated a virtualization optimized drivers into their out of the box installation. This approach guarantee the performance & stability of the drivers, as well ensure NIC Teaming & Multipathing is available out of the box with any VMware installation without depending on what the hardware vendor provide. The trade-off to VMware approach is they get to support a bit less hardware. Though its worth noticing that VMware supported hardware matrix has grown to include most of the well-known hardware vendor to the limit it does not really limit your hardware choices any more.

 Virtual Machine Specifications

Max Virtual SMP 8 4
Max Memory/VM 255GB 64GB
Direct I/O VMDirectPath I/O Not Available
Snapshot/VM 32 50
Thin Provisioning Yes Yes
Supported storage of guest VMs Direct, SAN, NAS, iSCSI Direct, SAN, iSCSI
Supported Guest OS

Microsoft Supported Server Operating Systems

- MS Windows 2008 R2 (Up to 8 vCPU) (Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter/Web/ Small Business)

- MS Windows 2008 x86/x64 (up to 8 vCPU) (Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter/Web/ Small Business)


- MS Windows 2003 R2 (x86/x64) (Up to 8 vCPU) (all service packs)

- MS Windows 2003 (x86/x64) (Up to 8 vCPU) (all service packs)




- MS Windows 2000 x86 (up to 8 vCPU) (SP3/SP4)


- Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 6a Server

- MS Windows 2008 R2 (Up to 4 vCPU) (Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter)

- MS Windows 2008 x86/x64 (up to 4 vCPU)(Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter)




- MS Windows 2003 R2 (x86/x64) (Up to 2 vCPU) (minimum SP2)

- MS Windows 2003 (x86/x64) (Up to 2 vCPU) (minimum SP2)


- MS Windows 2000 x86 (up to 1 vCPU) (minimum SP4)

(Microsoft Supported Client Operating Systems)

- MS Windows 7 x86/x64 (up to 8 vCPU) (All editions are supported)



- Windows Vista x86/x64 (up to 8 vCPU) (minimum of SP1)


- Windows XP Professional x86/64 (with or without SP1/SP2/SP3) (up to 8 vCPU)




- Windows 2000 Professional

- Windows 3.1/95/98

- Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack  6a Workstation.

- MS Windows 7 x86/x64 (up to 4 vCPU) (Professional & above)


- Windows Vista x86/x64 (up to 2 vCPU) (minimum of SP1)


- Windows XP Professional x86 SP3 (up to 2vCPU)

- Windows XP Professional x86 SP2 (up to 1vCPU)

- Windows XP Professional x64 SP2 (up to 2 vCPU)

Non-Microsoft Supported Operating Systems
VMware support a massive list of Linux/Unix & Non Microsoft Operating Systems. the below is just a wide selection of them for the full list you will need to visit: VMware OS Compatibility Guide

- Redhat Enterprise Linux 2.1/3/4/5  x32/x64 (up to 8 vCPU)

- Redhat Linux 7/8/9 (up to 8 vCPU)

- Suse Linux  (most versions are supported including 7/8/9/10/11 & Open Suse)

- Ubuntu (many version are supported)

- Solaris 10/ Netware/ FreeBSD/CentOS/ & other Linux OS's.

- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 x86/x64 SP1 (up to 1 vCPU)

- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 x86/x64 SP2 (up to 1 vCPU)

- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 x86/x64 (up to 1 vCPU)

- Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.2, 5.3, 5.4 x86/x64 (up to 1 vCPU)

ITComparison Comments

Its obvious that VMware has the lead on the number of supported operating systems on its Virtualization platform. Even when looking at Microsoft own OS, you are limited by the number of supported CPUs & older operating systems are not supported at all. Even Windows 2008 is limited to 4 vCPU, Windows 2003 for 2 vCPU, & Windows 2000 for 1 vCPU. Even with the very limited of non Microsoft operating systems hyper-V R2 support, It impose a killing limitation of only 1 vCPU supported for any Non-Microsoft OS.


The limit on the number of vCPUs & amount of memory allowed to VMs can degrade the performance & put boundaries in front of virtualizing larger workloads on Hyper-V. Vmware has the lead on supported a higher specs VMs, which gives it advantage at handling larger workload.


Management tools VMware vCenter 4.0 System Center Server Management Suites
ITComparison Comments

If you have wondered why System Center Server Management Suite is used at this comparison & not Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, then we must mention that MS SCVMM alone does not offer much comparing to vCenter. MS SCVMM get most of its value by integrating with:


- System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2

- System Center Configuraiton Manager 2007 R2

- System Center Data Protection Manager 2007


Although after integrating SCVMM with SCOM, SCCM, SCDPM it get a nice set of functionality setting them up & getting them functioning is quite more intense than vCenter. Its worth mentioning the extra amount of resources required to install them hardware wise & Administration wise. It definitely has took us a considerably longer & more hardware to setup System Center Server Management Suites that vCenter.

Live Migration Yes Yes
Simultaneous Live Migration



ITComparison Comments One of the major improvement of Hyper-V R2 over Hyper-V V1 is the inclusion of Live Migration, though its limited to one virtual machine migration at a time. The lag of Simultaneous Live migration in Hyper-v R2 can be a major slow down in case you need to evacuate the host as fast as possible, as you will have to wait for each machine to finish the migration to start the next VM migration. Its worth noticing that VMware support Simultaneous migration.   

While evaluating Hyper-V R2 live migration continuously in the same fashion we have stressed VMware VMotion, we have found out VMware VMotion to prove being more mature & stable. We have faced few kernel panic on Redhat 4 & 5 VMs & Blue Screen on Windows 2003 SP2 that we were running on Hyper-V while migrating them across hosts continuously. Its worth mentioning these failures were not consistent & the migration often worked where it failed about 5% of the time for these particular operating systems.

Storage Live Migration Yes No
ITComparison Comments Storage live migration is still a feature that Hyper-V does not offer & lag behind VMware on it. VMware has offered Storage VMotion since VMware VI3. Our team was actually surprised that Microsoft did not offer it in Hyper-V R2, as most of MS Hyper-V customers would be moving from a single VM per store to Multiple VM per store design with Hyper-V R2 where storage live migration would have been very handy. Microsoft Hyper-V R2 customers who decided to move to multi-VM per store design will have to go through downtime for every VM they want to move to the new datastores. The same will be required for any storage restructuring, where no downtime is required for the same on VMware.
Virtual Machine Balancing Across hosts Yes, Dynamic Resource Scheduler Yes, but require integration with System Center Operations Manager.
ITComparison Comments Although virtual machine balancing across hosts can be made available on Hyper-V, it requires a good amount of configuration. It actually require the integration between SCVMM & SCOM. Its for the same reason we have said that vCenter should be compared to System Center Server Management Suites rather than SCVMM.
H/A via clustering and failover Yes Yes
Clustered File System Yes, VMFS Yes, CSV
ITComparison Comments CSV is actually one of the major improvement in MS Hyper-V R2, as it allow having multiple VMs on the same datastore & still live migrate or failover them separately just like it has been possible on VMware for a while. The only draw back of CSV its still kinda new file system when compared to VMFS which has been proven solid for a while. Anyway it still a great advantage over Hyper-V V1.
VM synchronization Yes (VMware FT), With limits (1 vCPU, few features disabled) No
ITComparison Comments VMware Fault Tolerance or as known by VMware FT offer a zero downtime failover for VMs in case the server they are running on fail. Although VMware FT is still limited to 1 vCPU at the moment, it get to be very useful for applications that can not afford any downtime & can be run with 1 vCPU. Furthermore, as the CPU cores get more boosted more application can fit in this limit. Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V still does not offer any equivalent to VMware FT.
Online Backup VCB (VMware Consolidated Backup) & VMware Data Recovery (VDR) Live Backups with VSS/System Center Data Protection Manager 2007



 For MS Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V to offer similar capabilities of VMware Data Recovery, you will have to integrate SCVMM with SCDPM. This one again prove the requirement of Microsoft System Center Server Management Suites, when comparing Hyper-V with VMware rather than just SCVMM which if implemented a lone would lag behind vCenter big time.

Distributed Switches Yes No



VMware Distributed switches are great for larger environments, as they can save the administrators from having to provision the same virtual switches and policies per host basis & move the management of the virtual switches to be per datacenter or cluster basis. MS Hyper-V R2 still does not over an equivalent to VMware Distributed Switches


Foot print Small Large



MS Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-v has a full Windows Server 2008 R2 in its Domain 0, which make it affected by most of Windows Server 2008 R2 security holes & attacks. VMware ESX 4 has a very small foot print subset version of RedHat in its service console, which make it more prune to attacks and security holes than Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V.

Patching Hypervisor, Windows, & some Linux              Normal Windows Patching



VMware Update Manager can push Hypervisor, Windows guest, & some Linux guest OS patches. In the other hand, Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper management suite can only push the updates to windows hosts/guests.

VMSafe Yes  No
Applicaiton Firewall (vshield) Yes  No



VMware VMSafe allow third parties to provide many network protection features like Intrusion Detection System & Intrusion Protection systems that work on the level of virtual switches & between virtual machines. In addition, VMware vShield Zones offer the capability to cut your virtual environment in multiple zones using a virtual firewall that control traffic access the different virtual machines zones. 


Hyper-V still does not offer any equivalent to VMsafe & vShield Zones, which make it harder to secure your virtual environment & harder to cut it into multiple security zones.


Other Related Comparisons:


VMware ESX vs MS Windows 2008 Hyper-V

VMware ESXi vs Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008.

Xen Server Enterprise VS VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 VS Xen Server Enterprise

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2 VS VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3


Virtualization Comparison Forum:


Please post your requests, comments, opinion, concern, and read other

readers comments at our Blog post MS Windows 2008 Hyper-V VS VMware ESX 3.5  or our Forum at Virtualization Comparison forum.


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