Pluralsight blog Where devs, IT admins & creative pros go for news, tips, videos and more.
Supercharge your skills with expert-authored tech & creative training. Unlimited. Online. Get it now →
July 28, 2009

Hyper-V and VMware — Part 3: Cost


Hyper-V and VMware — Part 3: Cost

In my previous posts we talked about the usability as well as features of both:  Hyper-V and VMware.  It’s time to talk about the cost of each of these solutions.

A lot of you probably want to know which one is cheaper.  Well, this is not an easy question to answer.  There are a lot of factors that need to be considered when calculating the final cost. The total price for virtualizing your environment will depend on your current infrastructure — what Operating Systems currently run on your servers, how many servers are you going to virtualize, what functionality you’re most interested in, and few others.

A word of caution — the articles and blog posts that make the argument that one solution is cheaper than the other should be taken with a grain of salt. The authors are making a lot of assumptions that may not align with your environment and infrastructure, so don’t take anyone’s word — do your research.

Evaluating Cost of Hyper-V

Hyper-V might be significantly more affordable for a company that already invested into a lot of Microsoft products.  So for example, if all of your servers that will be virtualized have Microsoft Server 2003 and/or 2008 installed on them using Hyper-V is going to be a lot cheaper than using any other virtualization solution.  Hyper-V can be installed on Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 for free.

Unfortunately you will still need to invest in the following:

Also, keep in mind the limits of Hyper-V when it comes to RAM and processors.  All these items may bring your Hyper-V solution’s costs up.

Evaluation Cost of VMware

If you are downloading the free ESXi version of VMware the cost of your virtualization software is, well free, even for a Microsoft shop.  But as you probably already know, with ESXi you are not getting all the bells and whistles and this solution might not be sufficient for your virtualization needs, especially if you work for a bigger company.

VMware vSphere 4 currently starts at around $1K. The price goes up with the number of different features that are available.

If you are interested in vCenter you need to be prepared to spend around $6K.  The price tag on vCenter might look shocking to some of you but you need to take into consideration all the features that vCenter will provide for you.  Here is a quick list of what is included with vCenter.  For more details and information visit this VMware page.

  • Centralized Control and Deep Visibility into Virtual Infrastructure
  • Proactive Management of VMware vSphere
  • A Scalable and Extensible Management Platform
  • Distributed Resource Optimization
  • High Availability
  • Security

As you can see the price can climb pretty high but it can also be cost efficient when compared to Hyper-V if you are virtualizing hundreds of servers that have multiple OSs.


You need to keep in mind that with both Hyper-V and VMware you are obligated to buy licenses for every operating system you run on your servers whether it is Windows, Linux, or anything else.

Also, as I mentioned at the beginning, beware of reviews and articles that claim one solution has lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) and high ROI (Return on Investment) than the other — this is unique to your situation and it is only up to you to decide.

VMware has an awesome TCO Calculator that will help you calculate your potential cost savings when using VMware virtualization.   It is pretty self explanatory and quite easy to use – try giving it a shot.

What do our Hyper-V and VMware instructors have to say?

Coach Culbertson, who is all about Hyper-V, says:

Coach Culbertson -- the Hyper-V expert“I’d take Hyper-V over VMware due to the fact that Microsoft knows Microsoft. In building out virtual networks on Hyper-V, I haven’t encountered any weirdness, and it just works. I have had multiple instances of stuff not working in VMware that work exactly like they should in Hyper-V.

Another benefit to Hyper-V is I don’t have to pay a billion dollars for extra software licensing. With the recent advent of Microsoft releasing Hyper-V Linux Integration Components (LinuxIC), plus the current backwards compatibility for older OS’s, Hyper-V is going to quickly become a one-stop shop for virtualization. For the needs of most sysadmins, Hyper-V will be a cost effective solution that’ll get the job done in less time for less money.

Plus, faster snapshots. Just sayin’.”

David Davis, who loves VMware, says:

David Davis - the VMware expert“To me, VMware is the winner due to its memory over commitment and ballooning features.  You can get many more guest VMs on a single physical server than you can with Hyper-V. Thus, you will need fewer servers to virtualize the same number of physical servers into guest VMs with VMware, than you would with Hyper-V.

Also, the VMware product is so much more mature. VMware has a 10 year development lead on Microsoft and it shows with so many advanced features — Vmotion, SVMotion, DRS, VMHA, DRS and now new features like FT and Data Recovery. Microsoft is still trying to catch up with the features from ESX 3.0 (and they aren’t really close yet).

PLUS, third party products — there are a zillion of them for VMware and like “none” for Hyper-V.”

Good luck in your decisions.  Feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to help you get the right answers.  Once you are successful in virtualizing your server infrastructure let us know which solution you chose (and why) and how it worked out!

About the Author

(MCTS Active Directory, MCTS Vista, Network+, Linux+, Project+, PMP) is an experienced Network Support Specialist and an expert in Windows Server support. She graduated from DePaul University, Chicago with a Bachelor degree in Network Technologies with highest honors. Gosia has over 8 years of technical and support experience and has worked as Systems Administrator for a high profile law firm, where she managed the Backup and Disaster Recovery plan. Gosia has been a part of the Train Signal team since 2006 as the Product Manager and has written many articles on a variety of topics, including Exchange Server 2007, Windows Vista, Small Business Server, and more.