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?


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

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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:

      (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)
      • 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 - 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.

  • 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.
    • Fanboy alert

      • 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.
  • Virtualisation suites compared

    i think you should watch these and and after that do a comparison (it is done there)
  • 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.
    • 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.
      • 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.
        • Don't mind daffy

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

          • The one big difference..

   you tend to be rude without provocation.
    • 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.
      • 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).
  • 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?????
    • 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.