Virtualisation suites compared

Summary:Getting the foundation right for cloud means succeeding in virtualisation, but with multiple products available, which one is right for your business?

The bottom line

The bottom line is, as always: the product that suits you most, for the right price, is best. When you break it down, these are all offerings with calibre. VirtualBox is an inexpensive path, but it's really only suited to an individual or small business. Between the other three, there are key features and capabilities to consider.

When it comes down to it, our first choice would be VMware for the larger enterprise infrastructure, as it simply has more scalability than Microsoft Hyper-V or Citrix XenServer and is a more mature product. Price might also be less of a concern when you consider its feature set. However, the other products should not be overlooked. Each has great points to consider, and might actually suit your needs better when it comes time to reach into your pocket. Evaluating VM products is a challenge in abstraction, but you should look at your predominant environment and predicted future needs before you jump in.

Product Pros Cons Bottom line





Citrix XenServer 6.0.201
  • Easy to install

  • Greater support for industry-standard device drivers

  • No extra charge for most high-end functionality

  • Single console for all editions

  • Up to 16 vCPUs and 128GB per VM

  • Support via forums and the XenSource community.

  • A Windows application only, not a web console

  • Supported tools are not as advanced as VMware.

XenServer has the most features of any free hypervisor, is easiest to install and manage, has excellent performance and VMs support up to 16 vCPUs.





Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Hyper-V

  • Best integration with Microsoft infrastructure

  • A strong set of enterprise features, due to be improved soon

  • Strong development focus from Microsoft.

  • Large cluster management can be more difficult

  • Only four vCPUs and 64GB of RAM per VM.

It's still not as mature as VMware or XenServer, but it has a lot of momentum. Integration in a Windows environment will make this a strong hypervisor for those running mainly Microsoft.




VMware vSphere
ESXi 5

  • Easy to install and manage from vSphere Client

  • Many advanced features are available

  • Good support via forums

  • Many certified engineers are available in the workforce

  • Tools are available to assist in the migration to virtual.

  • Limited in terms of managing the virtual infrastructure

  • Requires upgrade to vCenter server for advanced features

  • Many advanced features are only available with additional plug-ins.

ESXi 5 is the market leader, which shows in the maturity of its product, the polish of its console and the vast number of support tools available. But it comes at a cost.





Oracle VirtualBox 4.1.18

  • Free, open source and small 20MB file size

  • Stable with very good usability

  • Can boot from .iso and simplified file sharing

  • Runs on and hosts a very wide variety of OSes.

  • Limited USB support

  • Less refined than more established competitors

  • Not all host ports are available under the VM

  • Number of guests limited by PC host

  • Doesn't support drag and drop.

VirtualBox is an inexpensive path for an individual or SMB to explore virtualisation. If your needs extend past VirtualBox running a production server and web server on a pair of VMs on a single server, you'll probably want to use another product.

Topics: Virtualization, Microsoft, Open Source, Oracle, VMWare

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.