September 2011 archive

Choosing a virtualization hypervisor: Eight factors to consider

Selecting a virtualization hypervisor begins with an important choice: Do you need a hosted or bare-metal hypervisor? Once you decide which type of hypervisor you need, there are lots of factors to consider.

You want a virtualization hypervisor that’s compatible with your hardware, allows for simple management and gives you the performance your virtual infrastructure needs. You should also consider high availability, reliability and scalability. And of course, look into costs.

Here are eight considerations for choosing a virtualization hypervisor:

If you want high performance, a bare-metal virtualization hypervisor is really your only option. Bare-metal virtualization offers the least amount of resource overhead. Bare-metal virtualization hypervisors also have advanced resource controls that allow you to guarantee, prioritize and limit virtual machine (VM) resource usage.

Hosted hypervisors typically have no or limited resource controls, so VMs have to fight each other for resources. Unlike bare-metal virtualization, hosted hypervisors often have steep resource-overhead penalties, especially when operating system services, tools and applications are running on the guest operating system.

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Top 10 hypervisors: Choosing the best hypervisor technology

Once you choose the type of hypervisor that fits your needs, you need to choose the best hypervisor technology for your infrastructure. Hypervisor products from the major virtualization vendors have their pros and cons, so consider the features of these hosted and bare-metal virtualization hypervisors before you make your decision.

Bare-metal virtualization hypervisors

VMware ESX and ESXi
VMware has the most mature hypervisor technology by far, offering advanced features and scalability. However, VMware’s bare-metal virtualization hypervisor can be expensive to implement because of its higher licensing costs. The vendor does offer a free version of ESXi, but it’s very limited and has none of the advanced features of the paid editions. VMware also offers lower-cost bundles that can make hypervisor technology more affordable for small infrastructures.

Microsoft Hyper-V
Microsoft Hyper-V has emerged as a serious competitor to VMware ESX and ESXi. Hyper-V lacks many of the advanced features that VMware’s broad product line provides, but with its tight Windows integration, Microsoft’s hypervisor technology may be the best hypervisor for organizations that don’t require a lot of bells and whistles.

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