Hypervisor (Xen and VMware) performance comparisons

I spoke on this subject during VMworld 2005:

VMware has now put a line in the proverbial sand that reliance on simply being able to virtualized is no longer enough. Take that, Xensource, and your aspirations. You must be able to do that and X. To keep pushing X will be where their future profits lay – not in simply being able to encapsulate a system into a single vmdk file.

The trick is not virtualization of a system or even virtualization at near native performance — no matter how difficult current Microsoft products make it look. There are or will be many products that will do this in due time. If all you want is lowest cost of obtaining virtualization and only have 10-15 servers, perhaps that is all that matters. However, there are a number of other “must haves” — such as VMotion. If I have to take a physical host down — do I really want to affect 20-30 VMs as well. As Geert Baeke correctly points out, the management capabilities in Virtual Center far outstrip the other competitors shipping products. Enterprise data centers need that level of granularity of control and capabilities — in fact they often need more as evidenced by the throngs of companies buying 3rd party add-ons like ESX Charter and P2V applications, like Leostream.

Where is the 3rd party industry surrounding Xen products at this point? I am not saying this to discount the Xensource product only to highlight the differences. Scalability of solutions is just one area that this lack of features shows. (Although VMware’s products also face scalability on the extreme end as well– >100 ESX hosts & 1500 VMs) Where are the Data Centers using 1500 VMs running upon Xen outside the hosting world?

Xensource has an admirable 1.0 beta product. Just as the Microsoft videos for their upcoming hypervisor show promising technology, and shows leaps forward in their management capabilities. However for my recommendation, I can only recommend something that is shipping AND something that has the whole package. I certainly wouldn’t have recommended pre 2.1.1 ESX, and that is about the layer both ESX competitors are at least for now.


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