Virtualization - Virtual Server, Virtual PC, Hyper V - what are they / what do you need for them / why use 1 or the other

Posted on 2009-12-22
Last Modified: 2013-11-23
I need to catch up to 2009 and want to start using / experimenting with virtualization.  there's 3 flavors of microsoft virtualization, right?  Vertual server (runs on a server OS as an app to virtualize server or desktop OSs?), virtual PC (runs on a desktop OS as an app to virtualize desktop OSs?) and hyper V (this is where I get lost).

am I right with my descriptions of the software out there?  Please correct me if I am wrong on the first 2.  AS I chose zones, I saw hypervisor mentioned - that's also virtualization?

what type of machine do I need for good performance?  RAM?  if I go above 4 GB, I need 64 bit apps to get access to the ram over 4 GB so win 7 or Server 2008 would be needed as the host?

Question by:IamStumped
    LVL 5

    Accepted Solution

    If you're going to be virtualizing servers you can choose from several vendors, one of which is Microsoft (Hyper-V). Citrix, VMWare and some others also offer free products. They amount to a light host OS that is installed first. From there you make virtual servers of whatever guest OS you wish.

    Virtual PC or VMWare workstation etc. I use more for testing. For example I run win7 but if I want to test something in XP I can fire up an XP VM using VMWare Workstation without all the fuss of finding the hardware to test.

    A hypervisor is "The software that coordinates the low-level interaction between virtual machines and the underlying physical computer hardware." (see for this term and others about virtualization)

    RAM is one of the most important aspects. Depending on what type of guest you want to run of course, I figure on a minimum of a gig for a lightly used windows server. If you want to use more than 4G on the guest OS it will need to be a 64bit version (Win2003, Vista and XP come in 64bit also). You only need 64 bit if the guest will have access to >4G, not if the bare metal has >4G.

    Author Comment

    Thanks!  That last line confused me a little:

    You only need 64 bit if the guest will have access to >4G, not if the bare metal has >4G.

    64 bit on the host?  if bare metal has > 4GB,m then the host has to be 64 bit to access all of it, right?  and you need 64 bit host if the vm is 64 bit, right? (can't have a 64 bit vm on a 32 bit real machine?
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    The hypervisors will not have an issue with >4G.

    Let's say for example you have a server with 20G RAM.

    If you do 4 guests with 5G each they'd need to be 64 bit.
    If you do 10 guests with 2G each they could be 32 bit.

    Each guest only sees the piece you make available to it, not the whole pie.

    Author Comment

    and what OS is on the host with 20 GB?  can't be 32 bit, right?

    and hypervisor is in addition to virtual server?  not instead of?  And that's an add in app for server 2008 or a special version of 2008?

    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    The host OS can be Microsoft's Hyper-v, VMWare Server (or ESXi, the free version), Citrix's XenServer or any of several other smaller vendors. They are 64 bit OSes.

    Here's a quote from MS's site: "Hyper-V runs on a 64-bit (x64) server platform and requires support of either AMD64 or Intel IA-32e/EM64T (x64) processors with hardware-assisted virtualization support. Note that Hyper-V does not support Itanium (IA-64) processors. For the virtual machines, Hyper-V supports both 32-bit and 64-bit systems as guest OSes."
    Found here:

    Hypervisor is a generic term for the host OS. It sits on the bare metal of the server and hosts VMs by handling the interaction between the guest OS and the hardware.

    I understand Virtual Server to be to servers what Virtual PC is to workstations. If you use Hyper-V you don't need VS or VPC. You'd use VS if you had a workstation OS and wanted to host a guest server in a VM on it.
    LVL 12

    Assisted Solution

    Hi there;

    >>and what OS is on the host with 20 GB?  can't be 32 bit, right?
    for hyper-v as I tested 2008 standard, enterprise and datacenter 32-bits and 64-bits:
    First your virtualization stuff must be enabled in bios, it is possible that your machine may not support hyper-v. Dig into bios to enable virtualization stuff.

    I failed to run hyper-v in 32-bit 2008 but since I have an alliance with MS, I have tried for 64-bit datacenter and yes, it works flawlessly.

    But, my experience tells, hyper-v is very nice as backing up a hyper-v image is something pain in the ass, as I tried for it 4 months ago and it takes 1 day to take an image of a VM even the machine was a 8 GB RAM-QUAD.

    So, I give up it then switch to VMWare ESXi 4.0 and yes, he is flawless too, a thin client is what you must configure in your client machine and you connect to the server via it and it has no issues so far.

    I definitely prefer VMWare ESXi for server stuff since Hyper-V had been working as if I RDP to a remote machine even I am in fact in the same machine. This was 4 months ago, maybe they fix the issue and I have a problem with USB supporting in Hyper-V but again 4-5 months is a long term to fix such problems.

    On the other hand, VMWare is one of the greates virtualizor software vendor, even in standalone solutions have no issues at all. Note that if you are going to work with VMWARE in Windows 7, I strongly recommend using VMWare 7 too. I have tried to import and check for setting of a VM that is taken in 6.5 and I spent 20 or so hours to fix the issue in my VMWare.

    Check my previously asked questions below:

    Best regards.

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