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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  • DirkMo - Wednesday, November 04, 2009 - link

    Are your sure you understand Microsoft Licensing?

    There's no additional cost for Hyper-V. The limitations you mention like 4 hosts for Enterprise is right but this doesn't differ in comparison to VMWare licensing (note also that in the case of Enterprise this is 4 without counting the Hyper-V host).

    In a typical Windows environment Hyper-V should be very interesting for virtualisation when it comes to cost. Off course if you're in a heterogeneous environment it's likely to fail when it comes to features.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, November 04, 2009 - link

    well that depends, yes i know the Ms system, no additional cost to hyper-v perhaps, but you can only run 1 in a basic MS OS and even MS stating that they disadvice to run much in the main OS when using hyper-V.....

    Enterprise is indeed main host + 4

    but VMware ESXi which is 100% free 0 base cost has no VM limit other then the limits of your physical system... so tell me again what the added value of hyper-v is?
    Reply
  • DirkMo - Thursday, November 05, 2009 - link

    ESXi is free indeed yes but the OS of the virtuals is not. If you buy the virtuals in the most economic way you most likely end up with a DC edition or several enterprise editions. You need those both in case of ESXi and Hyper-V.

    Now once you've bought these and have the choice I'm pretty sure Hyper-V will win it based on features when it's compared to ESXi.

    If you're not running MS only,why would you ever chose to run ESXi over XenServer? Both are free and XenServer beats ESXi by miles when it comes to features.
    Reply
  • sbrown23 - Wednesday, November 04, 2009 - link

    XenServer is free too. There is nothing special about ESXi bring free. Reply
  • T2k - Thursday, November 05, 2009 - link

    Exactly. ALL HVs are free except MS is the ONLY HV that gives you HA for free.

    The most expensive is VMware, no question about it.
    Second is Citrix because you get almost everything for free (XenCenter is great) but HA, StorageLink etc for XenServer are commercial.
    Cheapest of all is Microsoft, you get even HA for free.

    Hyper-V 2008 R2's additional advantage is that once you decided to get into HA role virtualization etc these are right there, all you need is to upgrade your cluster nodes to Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard (or Enterprise if you want application failover.)

    Now here comes the catch: Microsoft, as always, is the MOST COMPLEX, MOST @SS-BACKWARD, MOST CLUNKY, MOST IDIOTIC, MOST ERROR-PRONE of all setups so yes, as always with MS, there is a trade-off in frustration - but there are functionality and money saved as well.
    Reply
  • sbrown23 - Wednesday, November 04, 2009 - link

    MS Hyper-V server is also "free" like ESXi. And do you mean to say that you are going to run ESXi without Virtual Center? You are not going to pay nothing to run/manage ESXi. Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, November 03, 2009 - link

    We focus on the future plans. What hypervisor technologies are still being evaluated out there. As it gets easier to port VMs from one hypervisor to another, some people continue to evaluate other hypervisors for cost or management/flexibility reasons. Also "already evaluated and decided against" can be translated into "not on my shortlist" (option 3) Reply
  • InsaneScientist - Tuesday, November 03, 2009 - link

    Sorry... I should clarify, but we're still going back and evaluating the other options every once in a while, so it's not off the table either. Reply
  • cynic783 - Tuesday, November 03, 2009 - link

    Spellcheck:

    impression it may loose the server virtualization battle

    should be "lose".

    You can delete this comment once you fix it.

    Thanks for the great articles.

    Dan
    Reply

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