Choosing the right foundation: which hypervisor do you evaluate?by Johan De Gelas on November 3, 2009 12:00 AM EST
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First of all, we were pretty excited to see so many comments and votes (5000!) on our last IT poll. It is good to see that professional IT is so much alive at Anandtech.com. So yes, we should have updated this blog quicker, to keep the momentum going. The reason why this update comes rather late is -once again - that we are working on the much delayed hypervisor comparison. Hundreds of tests have already been done, but we have added more tests to check important I/O performance factors such as VMDq and iSCSI performance.
And of course, the virtualization market is evolving fast. There is a new kid on the block: KVM. Two of the three most important Linux vendors, Red Hat and Canonical, have ripped Xen out of their distributions in favor of KVM. KVM has an interesting philosophy: it simply adds two kernel modules to the Linux kernel to turn the latter into a hypervisor. As a result, KVM can leverage the huge amount of Linux drivers and the Linux kernel improvements such as power management. Still, a virtualization solution needs to mature quite a bit before it is ready. And that is more than a cliche. Xen's support for Windows VMs was for example supposed to work at the beginning of 2007, as Xen introduced support for Hardware Virtual Machines at the end of 2006. But only around in the middle of 2008, we felt confident enough to say that Windows virtual machines work well on Xen. We reported:
"Xen 3.2.0 which can be found in the newest Novell SLES 10 SP2, is capable of running Windows 2003 R2 under heavy stress."
So it took Xen several major revisions to really get it right. It is unlikely that KVM will do this much quicker. We will be giving KVM some heavy stresstesting so we can tell you more than just hearsay.
In the mean time, a new survey by Centrify shows a still dominant VMware, but it also tell us that Hyper-V and Xen are making a lot of progress, growing strong enough to be dangerous opponents in the near future. I have been talking to tens of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) in Belgium and the Netherlands. Our own tests show that VMware ESX is still the most robust hypervisor and most people concur. However VMware's half-hearted attempts to make vSphere more attractive to the SME does not create a lot of enthousiasm. If VMware does not create a more budgetfriendly solution for SMEs (and VMware, newsflash: most SME have more than 3 servers), we have the impression it may lose the server virtualization battle in the SME world, where everything is still possible. But those are my personal impressions. At the end of the day, what will happen in your working environment determines who will prevail. So let us know what you are planning...
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Typoman - Sunday, November 15, 2009 - link[quote]and VMware, newsflash: most SME have more than 3 servers[/quote]
I think this misses the mark a little. Of course SME's have more than three servers. They will become virtual machines on 3 brand new servers that you will buy and license with these VMWare SMB packages. The Essentials and Essentials Plus kits are limited to three ESX hosts. If you can buy some new hardware with lots of RAM, you can runs dozens of VM's on three ESX hosts. For the price of Essentials Plus, three hosts with HA is a good deal.
That being said, I try to steer even some of my smallest clients to regular vSphere licensing since there is no upgrade path from the SMB packages.
For the price of Essentials Plus, three hosts with HA is a good deal.
cbeltram - Friday, November 6, 2009 - linkIn our company we are waiting for RH's RHEV-H to be available since we had a great experience with RH 5.4 with KVM.
T2k - Thursday, November 5, 2009 - linkMy free XenServer v5.5 farm is excellent except two things:
1. no high availability (it's a commercial feature with a laughably high 2.5k per server price tag)
2. no role-based virtualization (I need to use full-blown VMs even for the smallest service or role)
Now that MS recently rolled out Hyper-V 2008 R2, free with HA included I am taking another long, hard look at MS' historically horrible, dismay clustering feature... only if they could get it right - my initial test setup shows that while they greatly improved the installation-deployment of a cluster and even included great validation ajnd management tools it's still mind-bogging how many tries it requires to get it done RIGHT, how idiotically complex they made a farily straighforward procedure. Microsoft - the lamest of all and it's still an issue.
kleshodnic - Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - link"Choosing the right foundation: which hypervisor do you evaluate?"
Wouldn't you evaluate them all?
papounet - Thursday, November 5, 2009 - linkWhat about Opensolaris options such as zones, containers, xVM and virtualbox ?
duploxxx - Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - linkNice article Johan as usual.
Just a quick thought, you think that Vmware with vSphere didn't do that much for SMB market? There is the ESXi which is free and you have the essentials plus package, I don't call a company any longer SMB if they require more then 6 lics in a HA environment, if you have some hardware knowledge and know what you buy you are easy set to go for about decent 15-20VM in these servers or upto 30 real small ones. I can't imagine that a SMB requires more OS in a HA environment then that, others can go very easy in just the freeware solution with just a bit of decent IT department. The essential plus also provides you with a lic of the new backup solution really designed for SMB.
Even the standard edition is reduced by 50% in price and now you have the advanced lic that is 25% less then the old enterprise.
isp - Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - linkThank you for being part of our marketing research.
JohanAnandtech - Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - linkWhat is wrong with a poll that everyone can see and consult? (°) You can see what the rest of the Anandtech readers are doing. It is important for us to know which hypervisors are evaluated, so that we can focus on what matters to our readers. I talked to probably 50 SMEs or so, and less than a handful were interested in KVM for example. This poll tell us there is more interest in KVM than we thought.
(°) Do you prefer the gartner and IDC way where you have to pay $2000 to get the numbers? :-)
Zstream - Wednesday, November 4, 2009 - linkHey,
Are you referring to Qumranet when you talk about Red Hat? I know Brian Madden did a review and it is still one of the best when it comes to multimedia functions.
Are you going to do a user/server review the given software? Xen, Qumranet, Vmware?
That would totally rock!
Lifted - Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - linkThe last choice in each of the polls should have been in it's own poll. It would have made it easier to compare the results, and the option really doesn't mean much when compared against the other choices.