What's the best virtualisation suite?

What's the best virtualisation suite?

Summary: Virtualisation is a great way to thin down your datacentres (assuming you can keep VM creep under control). But what's out there? In the first part of this virtualisation feature, ZDNet investigates ...

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TOPICS: Virtualization
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Over the past few years, virtualisation has become a viable option to thin down your datacentres in physical size, heat and cost.

At its core, there are two major types of virtualisation: Type 1 and Type 2. There are complaints attached to these labels, and there are hybrids that defy them, but by and large they serve their purpose in helping us to categorise virtualisation.

Type 1 is known as a native, or bare metal hypervisor. It requires no operating system to be pre-installed — it is one, just in a very stripped down form. If your intent is virtualisation alone, this is the most efficient type, allowing access to the hardware through the hypervisor.

Type 2 on the other hand, is run on a pre-installed operating system. It is also known as hosted virtualisation, or a virtual machine monitor (VMM). You'd likely run this when you need the host OS's features to have access to your hardware. For example, you may want to run on Solaris to give direct access to creating a RAID-Z array. Or perhaps you need to run on Windows, to give a virtualised operating system access to a hardware device that usually only Windows can see. Or maybe you just want to test out a new OS before doing a roll-out — either way, different virtualisation suits different needs.

In this round-up we'll be looking at Type 1 virtualisation solutions from the market leaders: Microsoft, Citrix and VMware. In the coming weeks we'll look into Type 2 competitors Parallels, VirtualBox, VMware Workstation and a few odd tools that aren't quite virtualisation, but do get binaries running across different OSes.

Bare metal hypervisors

In today's market, VMware still retains dominant share, but others are starting to move in on its lead, including XenServer from Citrix and Hyper-V from Microsoft. Both have received a large amount of press and also support from the industry. Of course, there are other Xen-based solutions such as xVM Server from Sun and Red Hat Linux Enterprise (RHEL) Server, which currently include virtualisation (although RHEL will be moving to KVM later in the year, as Ubuntu did last year). For this review our focus was primarily on VMware ESXi 3.5, XenServer 5, and Hyper-V R2 beta (more on why later).

Topic: Virtualization

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14 comments
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  • I like...

    Virtualbox
    anonymous
  • What's the best virtualisation suite?

    Why not have WMWare 3.5.0 as the VMWare offering in the test? You're asking the question what's the best platform, but not including the best product! Of course it increases complexity, but it's an enterprise product, which often means the environment requires a complex solution. You've lost my respect for any of your future reviews.
    anonymous
  • VMWare 3.5

    Which particular flavour of VMWare are you referring to? ESXi 3.5 is covered in the roundup -- were you after ESX?
    Craig Simms
  • Obviously not comparing apples to apples

    It seems that your product choices for this test are comparing apples to oranges. An example is Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008. Why did you take this version of Hyper-V instead of the one packaged with Windows Server 2008? Seems to me your "experience" results would of been drastically different. And would be quite comparable since it's a Type 1 Virtualization product (meaning bare-metal in the case of both Windows Server 2008 with Hyper-V and Hyper-V Server 2008). Plus you say that Hyper-V doesn't support VM migration! And what's this about the Intel NIC card not showing-up? Drivers need to be installed, obviously. Just seems to me like this is a very uneducated report you folks put together. And by the looks of of I wouldn't trust any of what you say on any of the prodycts tested. And how about trying multiple VMs with work loads, did you think of that? Or how about all the blanks you folks left in the specifications? Seriously didn't do your homework. I would strongly recommend that readers source a more intelligent source of news.
    anonymous
  • reply: Obviously not comparing apples to apples

    I agree with your comments, Hyper-V is very simple to operate and create virtual machines. I would strongly recommend that readers source a more intelligent source of news.
    anonymous
  • Virtualbox

    I like virtualbox also. Why was it not tested?
    anonymous
  • Hmmm

    The last page...and maybe others contain a Citrix ad right next to the report. Can we read anything into this?

    At the end of the day VMWare have taken the p!ss with pricing over the last couple of years and that WILL catch up with them.
    It's good to see competition and as they say "Microsoft will either make money out of this space or ensure nobody makes money out of it."
    anonymous
  • VirtualBox

    I am interested know why VirtualBox was not included? It is an easy to setup and use program from a major software player and should have had exposure in a comparison.
    anonymous
  • Virtualbox....

    What's that?

    ;-)

    God bless you Open Source folk... Apparently someone is interested in Open Source somewhere !!!
    anonymous
  • VMware, poor performance and reliability

    Given the dodgy patches vmware issued a while back, the fact they have been eclipsed in performance by Xen and its family of derivatives, and the fact that VMware costs thousands per server (plus the management center costs) I can see a glass ceiling on their growth.
    anonymous
  • VirtualBox NOT

    virtualbox is not tested because it is not an enterprise virtualisation application. virtualbox is just like MS VirtualPC, VMWare Workstation, Parallels that runs on a host OS (desktop).
    anonymous
  • Difficult to find you Credible

    Since you have a ZenServer Ad running on every page of your review - I found it very difficult to not see you as a paid AD for Citrix and XenServer.
    anonymous
  • Independent

    hi Jess,

    neither Citrix nor any of the other vendors had any influence on this independent review, which was done by the Enex Testlab in Melbourne in conjunction with ZDNet.com.au.

    We are staunchly independent!

    They do advertise on the feature, but they don't have any impact on the content or even know if their software is actually included in it until after the content is published.

    We have pretty strict rules about this!

    Kind regards,

    Renai LeMay
    News Editor
    ZDNet.com.au
    anonymous
  • Independent

    hi there,

    neither Citrix nor any of the other vendors had any influence on this independent review, which was done by the Enex Testlab in Melbourne in conjunction with ZDNet.com.au.

    We are staunchly independent!

    They do advertise on the feature, but they don't have any impact on the content or even know if their software is actually included in it until after the content is published.

    We have pretty strict rules about this!

    Kind regards,

    Renai LeMay
    News Editor
    ZDNet.com.au
    anonymous