What are the disadvantages of VMware?

VMware is a popular and widely-used virtualization platform, but like any technology solution, it comes with some downsides and tradeoffs. Some of the main disadvantages of VMware to consider include:

What are the disadvantages of VMware?

High Costs

One of the biggest disadvantages of VMware is that the software itself, including vSphere and other products in their stack, can be very expensive, especially for smaller companies. VMware licenses are based on a tiered model tied to physical CPUs. So as your infrastructure grows, your VMware licensing costs scale rapidly.

Vendor Lock-in

VMware uses proprietary file formats and management interfaces. This means that migrating your VMs off of VMware to another platform is quite challenging. The technical and cost barriers of exit make you heavily reliant on VMware as your virtualization vendor.

More Resource Intensive

Compared with open source virtualization solutions like KVM and Xen, VMware tends to be more resource intensive and may lead to lower VM density per host. The VMware hypervisor is fairly heavyweight and consumes more CPU and memory resources.

Less Customization

Due to their proprietary nature, VMware products tend to offer less customization and flexibility compared to open source options. You need to adhere more strictly to how VMware has designed and built out their solution.

Feature Segmentation Across Products

VMware has an extensive portfolio of virtualization products. But “features” are spread across these, often sold separately at additional cost. So to get full functionality you may need several licensed VMware products.

Upgrade Headaches

Upgrading major versions of VMware software like vCenter Server and ESXi can be disruptive, complex, and require extensive validation. This leads to many organizations sticking with older versions too long.

Skillset Development

To properly deploy, manage, and operate a VMware environment long term requires developing expertise around many specific VMware tools and capabilities. This results in a dependence on skilled VMware specialists.

Key Takeaways:

  • VMware has high per-CPU licensing costs that scale up rapidly.
  • There is significant vendor lock-in, limiting future migration options.
  • It is more resource intensive than open source virtualization.
  • There is less flexibility and control over customization.
  • Features spread across many separately sold products.
  • Major version upgrades bring headaches.
  • Ongoing reliance on developing specialized VMware skillsets.


VMware pioneered the widespread enterprise adoption of virtualization starting in 1999 with the release of VMware Workstation. Building on this early success, VMware has developed first class data center virtualization and private cloud software that powers most Fortune 500 and large enterprise organizations today. Despite having some notable shortcomings around costs, lock-in, and required expertise, many customers view VMware’s stability and scalability around mission critical workloads as a valuable tradeoff.

For organizations considering VMware products, they must weigh the advantages around performance, high availability, and deep software-level capabilities against the vendor lock-in and licensing costs that can come from choosing a proprietary closed source platform over more flexible open source alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does VMware offer a free version?
    VMware does not offer a completely free version of their software, but they offer discounted licenses and a 60-day evaluation license for most products for trial purposes.

  2. Is VMware cheaper than Microsoft Hyper-V?
    Generally, Hyper-V is cheaper than VMware since Hyper-V itself is free and included with Windows. Microsoft’s licensing is primarily for Windows Server, while VMware has per-CPU licensing applied on top of the underlying OS.

  3. Is it hard to migrate away from VMware later?
    Yes, migrating from VMware to another virtualization platform is quite challenging and typically requires entirely recreating VMs, snapshots, networking, etc. The technical lock-in and exit costs are high.

  4. Does VMware require a lot of maintenance?
    VMware does require ongoing patching, upgrades, performance monitoring, backup verification, and infrastructure maintenance. For production usage VMware environments usually have dedicated admin teams supporting them.

  5. Can you convert a Hyper-V VM to VMware?
    There are third party tools that claim to perform conversions between Hyper-V and VMware VMs, but in most cases it requires recreating or reconfiguring the guest OS and applications manually. Native conversion is generally not seamless.

  6. Does VMware scale well?
    For the most part VMware scales exceptionally well. Large vSphere clusters with thousands of VMs and hosts are common in enterprise data centers. High availability and fault tolerance capabilities also help improve scalability.

  7. Is Xen better than VMware?
    Xen open source virtualization tends to be lighter weight and more customizable than VMware’s proprietary solution. But VMware exceeds Xen in terms of ease of management, turnkey enterprise capabilities, and platform maturity.

  8. Is Azure better than VMware?
    Microsoft Azure provides a strong enterprise public cloud option. VMware is focused heavily on private cloud and on-premises virtualization. The solutions can complement each other as part of a hybrid strategy spanning both private and public infrastructure.

  9. Does VMware offer live migration?
    Yes, VMware vMotion allows for seamless live migration of VMs between physical hosts with no downtime or disruption to users. This enables infrastructure maintenance and continuous availability.

  10. Is VMware cheaper than AWS?
    When considering just infrastructure costs, VMware virtualization on top of on-prem hardware is typically cheaper than bare metal instances from AWS. But AWS can achieve cost savings at scale for cloud native workloads leveraging services.

  11. Can you convert VMware machine to VirtualBox?
    While VirtualBox supports importing some VMware virtual disk formats like VMDK files, there is no direct automated conversion process to convert an entire VMware VM into VirtualBox. Some manual rebuilding of the VM would be required.

  12. Does VMware offer GPU support?
    Yes, certain VMware products and editions like vSphere Enterprise Plus support dedicating GPUs to VMs for acceleration of workloads like machine learning, CAD/CAM, video rendering and more.

  13. Can you run VMware on Mac?
    Yes, VMware Fusion allows you to create and run VMware VMs locally on macOS for development, testing, and running Windows or Linux environments conveniently.

  14. Is VMware a hypervisor?
    The VMware ESXi bare metal hypervisor is at the core of their infrastructure virtualization stack. Additional management, orchestration, networking and other services are layered on top of this foundational layer.

  15. Does VMware support Docker?
    VMware supports running Docker containers in VMs using infrastructure like vSphere Integrated Containers. And their Pivotal/Tanzu portfolio focuses explicitly on orchestrating Kubernetes and containers.

  16. Is Nutanix better than VMware?
    For hyperconverged infrastructure deployments combining storage, compute and networking together, many customers have migrated from VMware vSAN solutions to the simpler management and lower licensing costs of Nutanix.

  17. Can you convert VMware machine to Hyper-V?
    Microsoft’s Disk2vhd tool can convert VMware VMDK files into VHD/VHDX formats for import to Hyper-V, but full VM conversion would still require additional guest OS reconfiguration to be functional.

  18. Is VMware worth learning?
    As a widely adopted data center and cloud virtualization leader, VMware skills are highly valued. VMware certifications like VCP-DCV can advance careers for sysadmins, virtualization admins and cloud engineers.

  19. Does VMware offer dual boot with Linux?
    The VMware ESXi hypervisor itself does not support dual booting with other operating systems. It is a dedicated scale-up hypervisor optimized solely for virtualization, with a minimal proprietary ESXi OS.

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