Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 compared to VMware vSphere 5

Update: August 20, 2012

Update September 4:
I made a new feature compare of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V RTM edition and VMware vSphere 5.1.

Read it here.


In August 2012 I added a couple of new postings in which is given more details on subjects of vSphere and Hyper-V.

vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: storage integration
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V:management
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: high available VMs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: Resource metering for chargeback
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: costs
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: hybride cloud
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: live migrations
vSphere 5 versus Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V: high available VMs

Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 promises to offer a lot of new features. Microsoft itself says in this posting on

‘ The upcoming Hyper-V 3.0 release that’s included in the next version of Windows Server has closed the technology gap with VMware’s vSphere’

We all know Microsoft is very good at marketing and we also (should) know currently Hyper-V 2.0 is far behind vSphere 5 when looking at features, scalability and enterprise readiness. Also until Windows Server 2012 is generally available (GA), we will not know for sure which advertised features will be part of the GA version.

Public and private clouds are in my opinion the IT of the future. Microsoft and VMware both have solutions which enable a cloud computing infrastructure. Please also read my blogposting titled Mythbusting:Can a VMware private cloud cost 5 to 16 times more than Microsoft private cloud? to learn about the offering on private cloud.

I decided to do some research on all the new features of Hyper-V 3.0 and compare it to the feature set of vSphere 5. I did this unbiased. Unlike Microsoft and VMware, who tend to only mention features the competition does not offer I try to mention all relevant features in this posting and future updates. If you have additions or feel features are not correct please let me know. If needed I will adjust the overview. Sent a short note to my email address mvdb22 (at) gmail dot com.

The image below shows the features of VMware vSphere 5 Enterprise Plus edition compared to Hyper-V 3.0 as far as I could find out using documentation on the internet.
To show the progress Microsoft has made I also list the current features of Hyper-V 2.0.

The information on features is based on the Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate.

Click on this link to view a table showing features of vSphere 5 standard, enterprise and enterprise plus and Hyper-V 2.0 and Hyper-V 3.0

vSphere 5.0 versus Hyper-V 3.0 VMware comparison features

Features and license costs are quite easy to compare. But there is more to consider when selecting which solution best fits the demands and budget.  This posting provides an overview of several aspects performance, eco-system, reliability, guest support.

Cost of licensing
There is always a lot of focus on costs. Costs have two aspects: the cost in buying something (CAPEX) and the costs for operating something (OPEX).
It is pretty clear that  Hyper-V is and will be cheaper than vSphere. Mind the vSphere Essentials Plus edition combined with offers from Veeam are compatative to Hyper-V in cases where no more than three hosts are needed.
While comparing CAPEX is pretty easy, comparing OPEX is difficult. How can you tell that management of a Hyper-V environment will cost more or less effort (=time) than managing a vSphere environment?

However, seeing the big price difference and growing number of features in Hyper-V 3.0 it will be more difficult to convince your boss to start using vSphere instead  of  ‘free’ Hyper-V.
Large enterprises (which all use server virtualization for some time) will not rapidly change to Hyper-V for production. Maybe they do Proof of Concepts or start using Hyper-V in Test/Dev infrastructures.

Several benchmarks do not show a significant performance difference between Hyper-V and vSphere.

While smaller infrastructures can do well with just a hypervisor and management, enterprises will need a lot of additional tooling to be able to manage the virtual infrastructure efficiently. VMware is a clear winner here. There are lots of third party solutions supported on vSphere for functions like backup, performance monitoring, disaster recovery, management, virtual appliances etc etc.
Also lots of hardware vendors offer solutions for vSphere.
Microsoft itself has a growing number of solutions part of the System Center Suite to manage both the physical and virtual infrastructure. The eco-system is growing with solutions like Veeam Backup & Replication for Hyper-V backup.

Cloud connectivity
A vSphere private cloud can easily integrated with a public cloud based on vSphere using vCloud Director. In the near future virtual machine can be vMotion-ed form private cloud to public cloud and reverse.
Microsoft has some integration between a private cloud and Azure public cloud using the new System Center App Controller 2012. This software delivers self service for deploying services to either private or public cloud instead of management which vCloud Connector delivers. In June Microsoft announced Azure which used to be a PaaS platform will also support virtual machines. So customers can upload their VHD files to Azure and run  there.

Public cloud
For a public cloud additional tooling is needed. Both Microsoft System Center 2012 and VMware software like vCloud Director and vCenter Operations Management Suite offer the ability to build and operate a private cloud.
Microsoft does not offer a chargeback tool like VMware does with Capacity IQ. Also on Lifecycle management and Capacity Management limited functionality is delivered by System Center 2012 products.
Also Microsoft offers limited security solutions between virtual datacenters. VMware has a range of solutions in the vShield family.
SCVMM 2012 combined with Server App-V allows to automatically deploy both virtual machines and server applications like SQL and Internet Information Services.

Microsoft System Center Suite 2012 is licensed per CPU socket in the host while VMware solutions are mostly licensed per VM (vCenter per instance). In most if not all cases VMware has a more expensive solution but delivers a lot of out of the box functionality.

Microsoft did a lot of work on scalability. More servers can be part of a cluster and larger servers are supported now. I believe Hyper-V 3.0 and vSphere are quite equal on this. vSphere is still limited to 2 TB virtual disk files which can be an issue for fileservers and databases. Hyper-V 3.0 has a virtual disk size limit of 64TB when using the new VHDX format.

One of the weak spots of Hyper-V 2.0 is storage. Clustered Shared Volumes can have some issues especially when backup are running. Most can be solved by installing hotfixes. Hyper-V 2.0 and SCVMM 2008 do not feel as reliable and robust as ESX and vCenter Server does.
During demos of the Developers Preview of Windows Server 8 and Hyper-V 3.0 I heard some complains about the reliability. We will just have to wait and see how this evolves when Windows Server 2012 is released and get experience.

Memory management
While vSphere clearly has a lot more memory techniques which enables a higher consolidation rate on the hosts, it can be argued if this justifies the much higher licensing cost of vSphere. Also internal memory is not that expensive anymore.

Guest support
vSphere supports a wide variety of guest operating systems. If you are running different Linux os or even Netware this is an important feature.

Other opinions
There are a few other non vendor  blogposting which compare  vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0.
Read Erik Scholten (experienced in VMware vSphere) view on Hyper-V 3.0 compared to vSphere.
Read Steve Beaver (VMware vExpert ) opinion in his blog on

Hyper-V 3.0 with Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 are going to deliver a lot of value for a relative low price (license) compared to VMware’s solutions. We will have to see how VMware responds. My guess is that prices will drop, vRAM entitlements will be increased or other deals will be offered to lure new VMware customers and prevent current customers from moving to Hyper-V. This could happen end of 2012/begin of 2013.


About Marcel van den Berg
I am a technical consultant with a strong focus on server virtualization, desktop virtualization, cloud computing and business continuity/disaster recovery.

12 Responses to Microsoft Hyper-V 3.0 compared to VMware vSphere 5

  1. David says:


    Interesting list when comparing feature for feature. One point, SCVMM 2012 still requires a vCenter instance to talk to, to be able to manage a VMware environment.


  2. ArjanTim says:

    Hi Marcel,

    Nice Comparison! But for me a couple of really important functions (VAAI, VASA, sVMotion, Metro Cluster, Storage Profiles, Host profiles)!

    It’s no surprise MS is getting the Gap smaller… But closed??? Not yet, IMHO 😉



    • I agree the gap is not competely closed. There are still some features vSphere has and Hyper-V lacks. Host profiles and distributed switches come handy in large environments. But a lot of organizations won’t mind to do some manual labor in return for a lot lower license cost.
      VAAI = ODX in Hyper-V. VASA = SMS-S in Hyper-V, svMotion has Hyper-V 3.0 as well

  3. Pedro says:

    Hot-Add CPU is NOT possible in Hyper-V 3.0. Only hot-add memory is 😉

    • Jaroslav says:

      Hi Pedro,
      one question: How often are you using this feature?
      I am trying to find a scenario for using such features in VM world but as always: the fasted and most secure way is to shut down the server, change # of CPUs and power it on again.
      Thank you for you reply in advance.


  4. Hello,

    Just for your information, a VMDK file is limited to 2TB but you can present a RDM (Raw Device Mapping) of 64 TB to your VM, if your Guest Operating System support it.

    so the max guest virtual disk size is 64 TB… but in terme of file you are right…

    Cédric Mégroz
    VCP / VCI / MCITP enterprise + virtualization

  5. Pete says:

    sadly this is just another example of “lets compare the big tools” thing, instead of trying to achieve a real world comparison.

    although I like the quality in here.

    Why would nobody compare low price or starter products from different vendors. there are a lot more smbs out there than enterprises with “the money”.

    what I take off this is that ms hyper-v is for smbs who can’t afford high pricing of vmware vsphere editions, right?!

    VMware better react on this before going down the same way that browser did a while ago … what was its name again? ;o)

  6. Jeff Gordon says:

    Finally a good comparison of what is known so far of hyper-v on win 8.

    What’s often missing in this comparison ist the level of co-work and integration of the virtualization solution with the major SAN/NAS Solutions. As an example: Hyper-v and Vmware have good integration with Netapp solutions while Xen and KVM have none. This is at least for my a major point when it comes to choose a virtualization solution.

  7. Thanks for sharing. Features are good. But once things are up and running in production, 2 things take precedent over features:
    1. Debug-ability. How easy is it to troubleshoot when things go wrong, be it performance or availability? In a dynamic environment, with 1000 VMs running, how do I remain in control? Am I able to quickly determine the root cause when there is a performance drop of VM no 623, or when DR between sites have problem? When a path fails, or spindles degrade, or hypervisor hang, will I know before users complain, and the platform helps me to pin point?
    2. Upgrade-ability. I will need to patch, update, upgrade things. With my entire business running on this platform, how can I do this safely & easily?

    That’s just my 2 cents anyway 🙂

    Full disclosure: I’m from VMware, serving strategic accounts (all practically run their business on virtual platform).

    • irnmamont says:

      So here are VMWare releases sinces December 2007:
      VMware ESX Server 3.5 (10 December 2007)
      VMware ESX Server 3.5 Build 64607 (20 February 2008)
      VMware ESX Server 3.5 Update 1 Build 82663 (10 April 2008)
      VMware ESX Server 3.5 Update 2 Build 110268 (13 August 2008)
      VMware ESX Server 3.5 Update 3 Build 123630 (6 November 2008)
      VMware ESX Server 3.5 Update 4 Build 153875 (30 March 2009)
      VMware ESX Server 3.5 Update 5 Build 207095 (3 December 2009) This was the last version to support 32-bit systems [23]

      VMware vSphere 4.0 (20 May 2009)
      VMware ESX 4.0 Build 164009 (21 May 2009)
      VMware ESX 4.0 Update 1 Build 208167 (19 November 2009)
      VMware ESX 4.0 Update 2 Build 261974 (10 June 2010)
      VMware ESX 4.0 Update 3 Build 398348 (5 May 2011)
      VMware ESX 4.0 Update 4 Build 504850 (17 November 2011)
      VMware ESX 4.1 Build 260247 (13 July 2010)
      VMware ESX 4.1 Update 1 Build 348481 (10 February 2011)
      VMware ESX 4.1 Update 2 Build 502767 (27 October 2011)
      VMware ESX 4.1 Update 3 Build 800380 (30 August 2012)

      Outside of 2010, there are about 4 of these a year. Moving from VSphere 3 to 3.5 to 4 to 4.1 to 5 to 5.1 was not always a simple task. With Hyper-V Server, I patch them once a quarter, so there is not much of a difference. VMware is an excellent product, very mature and robust and it does have features that Hyper-V currently lacks.

      Debugability – not sure what you mean, there is a lot more visibility into underlying process with Windows management tools than with vCenter…

  8. Pingback: Hyper-V 3.0 | IT-Modul

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