2016–2017 Hypervisor Cost Comparison

Although it is becoming less interesting over time, the hypervisor is still the cornerstone of the modern data center. As we enter the age of the hybrid cloud, that data center is stretching into the cloud. With the rise of containers, we are seeing clouds move to bare metal once more. While this works for new applications, it does not necessarily work for existing ones. Through 2017, the hypervisor will still be important to the data center and to many clouds. After 2017, we will see; it depends on the impact of many new technologies. Here is our 2016–2017 cost comparison spreadsheet.

The cost comparison spreadsheet looks at the costs depending on core configuration associated with various products. The core of pricing, however, is related to service and support (SnS), management, and costs for each instance of the hypervisor. As they are the building blocks, we need management as well as the hypervisor in order to operate the service at scale. This year, we expanded our scale to encompass two main configurations: 10 node and 100 node.

There is a surprise, however. That surprise is that the cost of Hyper-V has skyrocketed in comparison to vSphere’s. While Red Hat KVM and Citrix XenServer have stagnated prices. Microsoft Hyper-V has taken the lead from VMware vSphere in terms of the cost of ownership of just the hypervisor management components.

Product Microsoft Hyper-V 2016 VMware vSphere 6.x RedHat RHV Citrix XenServer
Cost Based Upon: Dual 12-20 Core Sockets, 1.5TBs memory, quad 10GB upgradeable to quad 25GB network, 16GB Fibre Channel, 10GB iSCSI Offload Capability, w/NVIDIA GRID M10 Capability COSTS SOFTWARE ONLY Hypervisor / 2 x 12 Core $9,232.50 $4,395 0 $1525
Hypervisor / 2 x 20 Core $15,387.50
Mgmt / 2 x 12 Core $5,410.50 $5,995 $1,299 0
Mgmt / 2 x 20 Core $9,017.50
SnS / 2 x 12 Core 10 $3,684 $1,099 $1,498 $305
SnS / 2 x 20 Core 10 $6,140
Per Node / 2 x 12 core $25,833 $10,988 $2,996 $3,355
Per Node / 2 x 20 core $43,055
Per 10 Nodes / 2 x 12 core $263,740.50 $115,875 $31,259 $33,550
Per 10 Nodes / 2 x 20 core $439,567.50
Per 100 Nodes / 2 x 12 core $2,588,710.50 $1,104,795 $300,899 $335,500
Per 100 Nodes / 2 x 20 core $4,314,517.50
Notes SA for Server is optional and is appox 20% per annum of purchase price

The pricing changes with Hyper-V 2016 are very noticeable. In some cases, one could say Microsoft is pricing itself out of the market, as many complained VMware was doing.

However, comparing the products has become increasingly difficult. We had to concentrate on core features, not those gained by adding on products such as NSX or VSAN. If we did, pricing would still place Microsoft in the lead with the most expensive product, but it would not be a fair comparison at this time. That will change.

We are also seeing a large shift in how the hypervisor will be sold in the future. Many companies are merging the hypervisor into hardware to form hyperconverged systems, or private clouds such as Azure Stack. VMware has already released a VMware Validated Design approach based on its EVO:RACK architectures, but generalized as VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF). Instead of hardware, VCF is about bundling software. Eventually, we will see nothing but bundles of management and tools. Even so, hybrid cloud is a small part of the hypervisor business these days. This will change as more security and other aspects of cloud improve.

Final Thoughts

As the market shifts, we are seeing changes in pricing. Where VMware had the highest prices, we are seeing Microsoft take that spot. We are also seeing hypervisors become equal with the features used by most customers. Yes, VMware vSphere still maintains its innovation lead, but that lead is rapidly shrinking. It remains the Cadillac, but others are catching up. It still should be noted that management, service, and support are where the costs lie for most products. This is no different.

We’re also seeing a growth toward hybrid cloud in the way software is bundled. This is the future of the hypervisor: a part of a bundle that serves as the entryway to the hybrid cloud.

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8 Comments on "2016–2017 Hypervisor Cost Comparison"

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Microsoft has a very obvious push to SaaS and we’re seeing them price Azure so competitively that it’s hard to argue against not pushing more workloads to those sorts of services. Their pricing for virtualization shows that they would rather you just use their cloud instead of buying their software.


mmm, isn’t Hyper-V Server free? looks like you’re counting Windows Server costs when you don’t need to?


tssss/ ESXi is also free. Nevermind the free versions.

Interesting article, thanks Edward ! I am missing the slightly bigger picture here though, as VMware offers various (3) levels in vSphere offerings with quite different price levels ? And what about what actually runs on this hypervisor ? In most cases I know, a lot of the workload in Enterprise environments is Windows Server. This is already covered in the datacenter license for Windows Server, but in case the hypervisor is vSphere, all those Windows Server licenses are still extra investment, which often leads to companies buying datacenter on top of VMware… Also… if you run Hyper-V with Datacenter… Read more »
Hello Marcel, You are correct. Many times those using vSphere Enterprise+ (which is the level we selected as it matches the most against Hyper-V 2016), also have an ELA for Windows. Even if you went the Hyper-V route you may have an ELA for windows. Other groups use purely Linux within their environments which implies they may already have purchased a set of Linux licenses as well. We ignored what you were running in your environment. No one can predict the workload mix, nor do we wish to do so. If you had to get Hyper-V or vSphere, this is… Read more »


This article is slightly misleading and may need some more research on how Microsoft licencing works. Datacenter licencing covers your virtualization rights for your guest WINDOWS OS irrespective of the hyper-visor used. If you were to run Windows Server on any other hypervisor you would still require the Windows Licences. You may argue that a large number of clients use Linux or other OS, that is true but Microsoft does not necessarily position Windows Datacenter as a solution for these clients. Hyper-V is a feature of Windows Server as is Clustering, both of these features are available in Windows Server… Read more »

Actually, we were ignoring the per VM costs which differ per environment. The real costs associate with a virtual environment are the management costs as well as Support Costs. The costs to purchase management for Hyper-V are fairly significant, as they are for vSphere. Per guest costs vary so wildly that we did not even look at them.