Before we launch into this round up, it's time for a trip down memory lane. Enex TestLab has been involved with virtualisation technology since 2004, testing and evaluating a variety of flavours privately for organisations, as well as for publication. During this time, many concepts have evolved to more sophisticated levels, and the market for virtual technology has matured. In those early days, there really was just one pioneer: VMware.
But VMware was soon joined by vendors such as Microsoft, and the open-source community stepped up with the Xen Hypervisor, which was ultimately acquired by Citrix. VirtualBox evolved as a Sun solution (now Oracle), and the base package is still available under open-source licensing.
Today, there are multiple types of virtualisation, which are sometimes confused and often lumped into the same basket. The very basic local system-based application virtualisation is where applications are essentially segmented and launched individually. Early proponents of this technology were AppSense and Sun. The primary benefits of this individual application type of virtualisation are security, development and platform independence. It's a technology well suited to computing environments of thin or low processing power.
Desktop virtualisation followed, enabling enterprises to really control their Standard Operating Environments (SOE) and manage their licensing. It also improved patch management and administration through more central command and control capabilities. This has been one of the holy grails pursued by the likes of Microsoft, with the support of Intel and its vPro embedded technologies.
The next step up is server virtualisation, and this is really where architects and administrators have been empowered to divorce server applications from the underlying hardware. It provides for far more robust datacentres, and enables redundancy, portability, scalability, availability and much more.
In this feature, we round up the common virtualisation vendors, and look at the good, the bad and the bottom line for each. VMware is joined by Citrix, Microsoft and Oracle.