Choosing A Hypervisor

One of the big decisions that always comes up early on in any physical to virtual, or P2V, project is choosing a hypervisor. In the project I'm working through with a client, this was an early sticking point as we contemplated which option would best suit the needs of a rapidly changing business.

One of main drivers was the availability of skills within the business. In our case, this led us to narrowing the field to Hyper-V and VMware pretty early on in our project.

We then took an audit of the applications running in the existing environment, paying particular attention to the operating systems that they ran on. A lot of our development occurs on open source platforms and we use Linux as the OS for many systems.

Our first instinct was to make life simple and jump straight to Hyper-V. Also, we had a perception that it was going to be the lowest cost option.

When we looked at our options and did some analysis, it became apparent that support for non-Microsoft operating systems was stronger with VMware. We'd be interested to hear from other Lifehacker readers if that's their experience.

We were also surprised when we looked at the pricing options. As we are only planning to install two physical hosts with two processor sockets each, we can run with VMware's Essentials Plus Kit. This supports up to three hosts, giving us some room to grow.

When we looked at the cost, we were pretty surprised. If we took the Hyper-V option we'd need to install Windows Server 2012 Data Center. The cost of that edition of Windows Server was the same as running with VMware and buying a couple of licenses for Windows Server Standard to replace the services we used from our soon-to-be-replaced Windows Small Business Server.

So, given the cost issues and superior support for Linux, we've landed on VMware as our preferred hypervisor.

What do you think? Have we made the right call? Have we missed anything?


    You are only looking at dollars.
    What about actual features? VMware Essentials gives you far less that Hyper-V and VVM does.
    You should be comparing apples, with apples. Else it not really a fair comparison. should give you an idea on how far Hyper-V has come (Azure runs on Hyper-V) with Linux support. If it's good enough for Mark Shuttleworth ...

      I stumbled on this thread doing research for hypervisors and saw your comment. I can tell you for a fact that Azure does not run on Hyper-V. It runs on Ubuntu using their proprietary cloud stack and it has since day one. That's why Shuttleworth plugged Azure, because his cloud team built it. I know this because I was there for part of the build. Apologies for commenting on such an old thread, but I and not a fan of disinformation.

    I agree with [email protected] Don't just look at costs, but support-ability and features.

    If you are going to look at HyperV, remember that your licensing costs will be LOWER running HyperV or VirtualBox, especially if you are running Windows guests.

    In most environments VMware essentials isn't enough, you will need to fork over a significant investment to VMware, and then you still need to licence your Windows guests. Using say, HyperV on DC edition, doesn't require any additional licencing.

    Another thing to consider is VMware support for hardware, their supported hardware list is still extremely small.

    There is a free version of the Microsoft Hypervisor call Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012, it is a core install and does not provide any licenses for windows machines runing on it. It is idea when you are running a virtual workload of mostly non Microsoft environments.

    Hyper-V is free - you don't need Data Center edition. In fact, if you buy a single Server 2012 Standard license you actually have the right to run two instances of Server 2012.

    @Aaron and @Kieran... while I understand the price point is important in making this decision, I also believe that opinions expressed here should be factual. The author clearly states in the article that Essentials Plus Kit is the option from VMware, not Essentials. has more information, but on first glance Essentials Plus includes: HA, vMotion, Data Protection, vShield Endpoint, vSphere Replication with the management of vCenter Operations Foundation on top.

      @VChampion Essentials Plus functionality wise is very comparable to Microsoft Hyper-V 2012... Best of all there are no scalability limits so having a 16 node cluster running Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 with 16 processors on each server will still cost $0... This also supports HA (Live Migration) and DR (Site Replication...

    >>Another thing to consider is VMware support for hardware, their supported hardware list is still extremely small.

    Rubbish. VMware ESXi supports all main server hardware (HP, Dell, IBM etc) and components. It might not support that unknown NIC vendor from China in your white box. But which organization is using some cheap self built, non HP/Dell etc servers for production anyway?

      Marcel > No that is not rubbish. Its a statement of fact. Once that you even ironically agreed with in your own statement. Point is that Microsoft Virtualisation solution has far wider support and when compared with VMware it is considerably small. And even if that "cheap self built" computer is using hardware that has got the Microsoft hardware certifications on it then it will work fine... So it is good for both non-production and production... Where with VMware you say needs to have top level tier hardware (HP, Dell, IBM etc)....

    I know several blue chips that are removing VMware and migrating back to Hyper-V. Hyper-V in 2012 has better support for Linux. Hyper-V is built into Windows Server and requires no extra software licenses to operate. The maximum number of virtual processors you can have is 8 X # of logical processors. So if you have a dual quad core processor, you could have 8x8 virtual processors giving you 64 virtual cores (this is a guideline, you can actually have more, but performance will be effected). With all Server versions, Standard license maxes out at 32GB ram, to have more ram you will need Enterprise edition.

    There are also free addons for Hyper-V that let you manage ALL of your host machines and VM's from a central place (or remotely). or (there are many other free tools, these were shown for reference).

    The savings from using Hyper-V are immense, as you do not have to pay subscription fees, nor yearly maintenance fees.

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