Virtualisation suites compared

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?

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VMware vSphere ESXi 5

VMware is an old hand in the virtualisation arena, so taking a peek at its products on the web can leave your head spinning, as there's such a wide range of applications. One trap that the unwary can fall into is that some of the features described are not available on the standard product; they require additional purchases to plug in the additional functionality that you may require.

VMware1
VMware vSphere ESXi 5
(Credit: Enex TestLab)

For many, vSphere ESXi is the cream of the crop, and the other vendors are simply playing catch-up. While it is true that VMware has a product for every scenario, some of the other vendors' products can be a perfect fit in terms of features suiting a particular infrastructure and scenario.

VMware is not quite as easy to set up as XenServer, for example, but it is still relatively quick and painless. The resultant interface on the host server is pure Linux CLI, and to facilitate the remote management of the host, a vSphere Client must be installed on a Windows PC as a minimum.

The client interface is clean and simple to navigate, so setting up and managing VMs is also a simple proposition. However, to ensure full management of a large-scale VMware virtual infrastructure, vCenter Server must be installed, which involves an additional cost. VCenter is a one-stop management tool, and the only tool you will need. It effortlessly manages tasks such as VM migration, load balancing and high availability, to name a few.

As previously mentioned, VMware is feature rich, but aspects such as fault tolerance are only available on Enterprise Editions and above. Disaster recovery requires the Site Recovery Manager plug-in, and virtual distributed switching requires vSphere Enterprise Plus.

For the high-availability requirements of large-scale enterprise, the VMware advanced storage management component, VMFS, is a cluster file system that leverages shared storage to allow for multiple vSphere hosts to read and write to the same storage concurrently. It provides live migration of running virtual machines from one physical server to another, automatic restart of a failed virtual machine on a separate physical server and clustering virtual machines across different physical servers.

For reliability of the platform, driver hardening is maintained as a collaborative exercise with hardware vendors, where the Microsoft and Citrix products rely on generic Windows or Linux drivers.

VSphere is the leader in terms of ultimate scalability; each host can sport up to 160 logical CPUs, 2TB of RAM and an impressive 2048 vCPUs, all shared amongst a maximum of 512 active VMs per host. The specs of individual VMs are equally impressive, with 32 vCPUs and up to 1TB of RAM. A cluster can consist of 32 nodes, with a total of 3000 VMs.

The ability to discretely manage these components for each unique VM is the true strength of VMware. The lack of reliance on a base operating system to translate and interface eliminates the I/O bottlenecks experienced by the other two products.

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

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16 comments
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  • Virtualisation suites compared

    I would have loved to see RHEV compared here as well! Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization.
    Nirmal Pathak
    • Side-by-Side Virtualization Feature Comparison

      @nirmalpathak I've put together a comparison of Citrix XenServer, Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, Oracle VM and Red Hat for you here: http://ombud.com/r/h1

      (Full disclosure, I work for Ombud, an online platform to research enterprise technology. Ombud allows users to compare solutions feature-by-feature and then customize those comparisons according to their needs)
      WiseStephanie
      • latest Server 2012 v vSphere 5.x v XenServer 6.x v Redhat KVM comparison

        Just posted this as response to a similar thread - one of the best for the above comparisons seems to be http://www.virtualizationmatrix.com/ - at least it's always updated by the looks of it (not just a blog). Most of my guys use it - wish they would add more details on VDI and Cloud.

        Tim
        TimGrader
  • No comparison to Windows Server 2012

    Nice writeup, although don't you think it would have been appropriate to compare Server 2012? I guess it hasn't been officially released, so maybe we'll see another write-up in September.
    ParsonsProject93
    • Fanboy alert

      CaviarBlack
      • The author included VirtualBox for no better apparent reason..

        ..than to give it some credit for being free and light.

        I would count this a lot closer to fanboyism than someone asking that one of the platforms being compared be the most current version.
        daftkey
  • Virtualisation suites compared

    i think you should watch these http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/Europe/2012/VIR311 and http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/Europe/2012/VIR312 and after that do a comparison (it is done there)
    djcata03@...
  • Why is VirtualBox in there?

    "it is not a direct competitor to the other three virtualisation implementations. "

    VirtualBox doesn't even belong in this comparison. As others have said, you dropped the ball by excluding RHEV (among probably others) that would have fit the bill much better.

    If you want to talk about VirtualBox, you should be including it in a comparison with VirtualPC, VMware Workstation (or VMware Player, if you strictly want to stick with "Free" offerings).

    You don't do Oracle or VirtualBox developers any kind of service comparing it to a Type-1 hypervisors, and you don't do your own readers (who might be looking for a useful comparison) any service, either.
    daftkey
    • Seriously

      Im quite confient if you where in person you could have said this more nicely. No since in being an "a s s" when its not necessary. Just make a nice recomendation.Read parson project above and see how humans interact.
      Polycarp$
      • You must be new here...

        "Im quite confient if you where in person you could have said this more nicely. "

        I'm quite confident I could also have been a much bigger jerk. Have a look at some of the more "popular" articles that get posted around ZDnet and I think you'll agree I was being quite tactful, relatively speaking.

        I chose to take the middle road and point out one or two reasons why it may be ill advised to include a desktop virtualization platform in a comparison with Type-1 Hypervisors, and why there may have been more relevant solutions that should have been included. It is possible that Steven and Thomas are experts when it comes to these technologies, but this type of oversight calls that expertise into doubt very, very quickly.

        If you prefer to take everything a blogger writes at face value with a pat on the back and a "nice write up", then so be it. I prefer bloggers be kept honest myself, and one of the best places to do that is in the comment section, disecting and challenging important assertions that those bloggers make.
        daftkey
        • Don't mind daffy

          He's always been a rude ass. He even beats me in that department. And that's a lot.

          ;)
          CaviarBlack
          • The one big difference..

            ..is you tend to be rude without provocation.
            daftkey
    • I use VirtualBox and VMWare Player and I agree

      For Linux users VirtualBox is the best desktop virtualization suite. For a true hypevisor you have to go elsewhere.
      T1Oracle
      • Try out Workstation...

        VirtualBox does a good job of filling the gaps that the free VMware Player leaves, however give Workstation a comparison to VirtualBox (you can download a trial version for 30 days).

        I find the performance quite a bit better, and there are some features that just work better overall (snapshots, linked clones, which I know VirtualBox supports to a degree, but I find those much easier to manage in VMware, and I've also found it a lot more reliable).
        daftkey
  • Is this review for real?

    On August 5th 2012 you do you are review and use Windows 2008 R2 (Hyper V 2) and not the RTM version of Windows 2012 (Hyper V 3)??????????????

    I am no lover of Microsoft by far, but dam get a clue.

    Virtual box????????????? A layer 2 host product compared to the others?????
    JeveSobs
    • I agree.

      Sever 2012 with Hyper-v 3.0 did reach rtm last week, so it would have been logical to compare it instead of Hyper-v 2.0 certainly because the additions to it are major.

      Virtualbox does not compare to type 1 hypervisors, so is certainly out of place.
      sjaak327