I am using Virtual Server 2005 in my previous company, the new company that I have joined uses VMWare, is there any compelling reason for me to start using VMWare.

What are the points where each VM management software scores over the other?

  • 1
    Which product of Vmware do they use? ESX? Server? Workstation? – Josh Brower Jul 2 '09 at 12:14

10 Answers 10


The most important reason to start using VMware would be that it's the platform that your new company has selected for their VM platform.

VMware has vMotion to move machines from one host to another live. With vSphere 4.0 (just released) you've got the option to use VMware FT which is the new fault tolerant feature which allows for instant failover in the event of a hardware failure.

VMware has many power saving features (especially in vSphere) which allow for hosts to go up and down as needed to save power.


These are two completely different classes of virtualization platform. VS 2005 is nowhere near VMware ESX in term of feature-completeness. I am assuming you are talking about a server platform here, btw.

VMware does loads of things MS is not capable of by a long shot. Real live migration (VMotion), storage migration, a solid management interface (which does need some loving, but hey, nobody's perfect), high availability, etc.

If you are talking about desktop software, VMware is king too, but their offering if relatively expensive on that plane.

  • "If you are talking about desktop software, VMware is king too, but their offering if relatively expensive on that plane." (free) Vmware server anyone?? – Josh Brower Jul 2 '09 at 12:14
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    Nice program, but I'm talking about features completeness, and VMware Server is just not Workstation's equal. – wzzrd Jul 2 '09 at 13:40
  • ahhh, ok. Wasn't sure. – Josh Brower Jul 2 '09 at 16:44

You would do a lot better comparing VMWare to Hyper-V which is a more direct competitor to VMWare on the server platform.

Hyper-V R2 will be released with 80% of the feature set the VMWare offers at the moment, including and not limited to live VM Migrations and Fault Tolerant fall over when using System Center along with it.

I use both. Depending on my environment, customer need and hardware. Hyper-V is rolled out at your corporate headquarters, but use VMWare at home due to hardware limitations. I also use Parallels and VirtualBox for my desktop virtualization.

MCT's have to use Virtual Server for the newer courses as this is the only way MS distrubutes the courseware.


As far as conversion goes, VMWare destroys MS. I've used VMWare Converter on multiple occasions where the MS P2V "big gun" (SCVMM) rolls over and gives up - even in a Microsoft shop.

MS seems to be playing catch-up in a lot of areas (like v-motion) - I expect you'll come to enjoy the more mature toolkit of VMWare.

That being said, once it's in place, HyperV (VS 2005 isn't something you want to hold onto) keeps production servers humming along just fine, and as Diago pointed out, R2 will bring the features list almost up to VMWare levels, but I really do expect the implementation to be pretty crude for a couple of years yet, at least.

[edit] I should mention that I am quite happy with win7's ability to boot to a variety of VHD's. Not that using VMWare would rule out the use of this feature, but I'm hoping that "imaging" will soon consist of copying over a VHD, and that I'll be happily whipping up said VHDs in SCVMM. (a somewhat obscure point in favor of VHDs for the company standard, vs. VMDKs)

  • +1 for mentioning the native VHD boot on Windows 7. It's a killing feature in Win7. I see the possibility of the future desktop virtualization solution. VMware and other vendors should catch up that route too. – kentchen Jul 2 '09 at 17:45

We run Virtual Server 2005 in our development environment, as it's easy to use with all Microsoft Virtual Machines. However, in the production environment we use ESX with a mix of Microsoft/Linux Machines.

ESX also allows you to over-allocate memory, along with multiple CPUs, whereas with VS2005 you are limited to one CPU per Machine and the physical memory maximum.

At home, I use Virtual Server 2005 with several development Machines - as ESXi wouldn't play ball with my server hardware (it's picky, compared to VS2005).


On a personal level, what I like about VMware vs Virtual Server is that I can pick up any virtual machine and run it on my Windows workstation, on a Linux or ESXi server, or on my Mac at home.

Virtual Box comes close with that kind of mobility, but doesn't seem to offer much for the server side, and otherwise all virtualization solutions will lock you to a platform, one way or another.


Obviously the first and most important factor is that your new company uses VMWare. You should use VMWare because of that, end of story. Imagine a co-worker sends you a guest image, you can't use it because it'll be a VMware one (not without a lot of conversion time), and if you want to send it back to him - you'll have to convert it back to Vmware anyway.

The other reasons anyone would want to use VMware over VS is that it has a lot more features - some have been mentioned, the fancy GUI toolkits to manage VMs like Lab Manager and Virtual Centre; the live migration, resource load balancing and backup facilties; but also the relatively little-known trick that VMware uses to share memory allowing you to run more VMs on a host than you'd have thought. That's pretty neat and allows you to run lots of low-resource VMs, or lots of similar VMs on a single box.


How often do you move your VMs from one machine to another?

I've never had an issue doing this with VMWare (Server 1.x/2.x, Workstation or Player), but I have with VMs created using Virtual Server (it was years ago so I can't recall the specific error but it had something to do with the user accounts and not having access to the VM).

I happened to come across this particular issue trying to move test VMs from my development machine to dedicated test server and ended up having to rebuild the VMs from scratch in order get around it.

Since we were already crunching on a deadline, this stands out in my mind as a reason to be wary of the MS Virtualization products.


Virtual Server 2005 is quite out-dated. You should look at hyper-V vs ESXi and/or ESX on the server platform, and VMware Workstation vs VPC 2007 on the desktop. Virtual Server 2005 is in the same category of VMware Server, and both shouldn't be considered in a server environment.

While I am still keen to use VMware over Microsoft, one thing I really like is the native VHD boot option in Windows 7. The other vendors including VMware don't seem to have the same functions in their products.

Hope it helps.


There have historically been some very significant problems with Microsoft Virtual Server's support of Linux images- basically, many linux distros required 16-bit color to boot and install, and that wasn't supported in the Virtual Server emulation. This may have been addressed since that particular point release, but given Microsoft's track record of hostility towards the open source world, if you intend to work with non-windows OS virtual machines, you'll be a lot happier using VMware (or one of the open source variants).

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