As virtualization software continues to evolve, so do the options for network specialists, IT managers, CTOs, and CIOs. In order to help make the best decision for your organization, it’s important to understand the different types of virtualization software and what benefits they offer.
This guide will provide an overview of the top six virtualization software programs on the market today and explain why they are worth considering for your business.
What is Virtualization?
Virtualization is the process of creating a virtual version of something, such as a desktop, server, or network. It doesn’t exist physically but appears to do so. This virtual version of a computing environment can be used for a variety of purposes, including testing and development, disaster recovery, and workload consolidation.
There are many different types of virtualization software available, but the most common are server virtualization and desktop virtualization. Server virtualization allows you to create multiple “virtual” servers from a single physical server. This can be useful for organizations that want to increase their server capacity without buying additional hardware.
Desktop virtualization, on the other hand, allows you to run multiple instances of Windows or macOS on a single device. This can be helpful for businesses that need to provide employees with separate virtual desktops for their jobs.
What is Virtualization Software?
Virtualization software, also known as virtual machine (VM) software, is a type of software that allows you to create and run virtual machines on physical servers. Server virtualization is one example of this kind of software.
The primary benefit of using VM software is the ability to run more than one operating system at a time on a single server or desktop computer—something which wasn’t possible with traditional hardware before this technology was developed. This makes it much easier for businesses with employees who need to use multiple operating systems—such as Windows and macOS—to set up a single workstation that their workers can share.
Best Virtualization Software
Microsoft Hyper-V is a hardware virtualization service that runs a software version of your physical computer and can accommodate more than one VM in the same hardware system. This capability allows distributed teams to access and share computing resources.
Hyper-V utilizes the Windows hypervisor to manage workloads between the physical computers and VMs. On top of workloads, some VMs have access to your network, graphics, or hardware storage devices.
Hyper-V is Microsoft’s latest virtualization product that replaced older versions such as Microsoft Virtual Server, Windows Virtual PC, and Microsoft Virtual PC.
- Hyper-V’s core tools to manage virtual interactions include Hyper-V Manager, Windows PowerShell Module, VMConnect, and Windows PowerShell direct.
- Technologies for managing virtual interactions include Failover Clustering, Remote Desktop Services (RDS), and System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
- Hyper-V includes cluster-shared volumes for storage.
- Hyper-V optimizes your energy and saves on physical space by letting you consolidate multiple workloads on fewer computers.
- Hyper-V’s flexibility lets users move virtual guests between hardware with minimal downtime.
- The failover clustering provides redundancy and consistent application availability.
- The platform’s dynamic memory management allows users to operate multiple VMs.
- The platform offers simplified security management through Microsoft’s Active Directory.
- Insufficient support for Linux
- Users have to take all VMs offline during security updates to the operating system
- Admin tools and user interface could use more features
There are three pricing tiers, as shown below. The Windows server-2019 comes with a 180-day free trial.
VMware vSphere offers a bare-metal environment for virtualizing your servers and deploying applications. The vSphere module has two virtualization components: VMware ESXi and VMware Vcenter Server VMware.
The ESXi hypervisor allows users to instantly provision virtual resources and optimize performance through compression and page sharing. At the same time, the vCenter server centralizes administration for ESXi hardware connected to the overall network.
Software components that run the virtual machines include:
- ESXi hypervisor is used to run the VMs.
- vCenter Server allows users to direct processes on VMs and manage ESXi hosts.
- vCenter Single Sign-On (SSO) authentication service is used to secure cloud assets.
- Security Token Service (STS) certificates authenticate vCenter service users and their activities.
- vSphere Cluster Services (vCLS) ensures high availability when the central vCenter server is unavailable.
- The Vmotion technology allows users to seamlessly move VMs between data stores and physical hosts with no service interruption.
Other features include:
- Driver hardening ensures operations continue to run even when the Input/Output devices experience faults.
- Managed inventory objects allow users to monitor network activity, place permissions, and set alarms.
- Users can add vSphere components via plugins to extend vSphere’s functionality.
- vSphere offers an intuitive client interface for accessing vSphere components.
- Fault tolerance is built into the hardware layer.
- The software’s snapshots allow users to recover services at any point in time.
- The platform offers great vendor support.
- VMware licensing is costlier compared to other virtualization services.
- vSphere is a complex platform that requires extensive training to understand and navigate.
- The platform is incompatible with hardware not supported by VMware.
VMware vSphere has several pricing tiers, as shown below. VMware also offers a 60-day trial for all its products.
|Product||Purchase Price||Upgrade Price|
|VMware Workstation 16 Player||$149||$79|
|VMware Workstation 16 Pro||$199||$99|
|VMware Fusion 12 Pro||$199||$99|
|VMware Fusion 12 Player||$149||$79|
Data Center Virtualization and Cloud Infrastructure
|VMware vSphere Essentials Kit||VMware vSphereEssentials Plus Kit||VMware vSphere Standard||VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus|
Oracle VM offers a low-overhead virtualization platform that can accommodate highly demanding workloads with little downtime. Their virtualization technology supports 384 hardware CPUs and 6 terabytes (TB) of memory. Furthermore, each guest VM can accommodate 256 virtual CPUs and 2 TB of memory.
Oracle VM offers consistent performance, minimal backports, and stability through the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel.
- Oracle VM supports all the leading OSs, such as Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Microsoft Windows.
- The platform offers Oracle VM advanced manager module for centralizing management of VMs, resources, networking, and storage.
- The platform includes pre-configured VMs that have pre-installed Oracle application tools.
- A graphical object topology viewer displays VM attributes and quickly allocates resources from a central point.
- Oracle VM integrates with Oracle’s enterprise manager for comprehensive administration and management of services.
- Planned maintenance cycles do not affect service delivery because users can quickly migrate VMs to other servers.
- Users can do live migrations even when VMs are still running.
- Oracle VM has fast cloning and resource provisioning.
- Their Embedded OSWatcher utility quickly diagnoses and fixes performance issues without affecting service delivery.
- The platform has zero-downtime security updates that allow service continuity.
- Steep learning curve for new users
- Complex user interface that’s difficult to navigate
Oracle VM offers different pricing options based on the product. Oracle has an Always Free cloud service and a 30-day free trial package. The Always Free package provides two AMD virtual machines, four instances, two Oracle databases, storage, a load balancer, notifications, and monitoring.
|Compute—Ampere A1—OCPU||$0.01||OCPU per hour|
|Compute—Ampere A1—Memory||$0.0015||Gigabyte (GB) per hour|
|Compute—Virtual Machine Optimized—X9||$0.054||OCPU per hour|
|Compute—Virtual Machine Optimized—X9—Memory||$0.0015||GB per hour|
|Compute—Virtual Machine Standard—X7||$0.0638||OCPU per hour|
|Compute—Virtual Machine Dense I/O—X7||$0.1275||OCPU per hour|
|Compute—Standard—E4—OCPU||$0.025||OCPU per hour|
|Compute—Standard—E4—Memory||$0.0015||GB per hour|
|Compute—Standard—E3—OCPU||$0.025||OCPU per hour|
|Compute—Standard—E3—Memory||$0.0015||GB per hour|
|Compute—Virtual Machine Standard—E2 Micro—Free||Free||OCPU per hour|
|Database—Marketplace Compute Image—Microsoft SQL Enterprise||$1.47||OCPU per hour|
|Database—Marketplace Compute Image—Microsoft SQL Standard||$0.185||OCPU per hour|
Citrix XenServer Hypervisor
Citrix Hypervisor is optimized for Citrix desktops and virtual apps to deliver efficient operations management and a smooth user experience. It is also easy to navigate for first-time users. In addition, the open-source platform consolidates several VMs on a single physical server to reduce the number of disk images managed separately.
Users can also pre-configured policies that allow them to restart VMs in case of downtime. Also, VM images can work on multiple deployment infrastructures to increase image portability. To run Citrix Hypervisor, the user can choose between an Intel VT or AMD-V 64-bit x86-based processor to manage multiple guest operating systems.
- The Control Domain or Domain 0 is Citrix’s privileged Linux-based VM that manages the hypervisor’s functions and physical components for storage and networking.
- The tool stack contains software components that control a VM’s end-to-end operations, including networking, storage, and authentication.
- Virtualization extensions help in virtualizing guests to scale out onto the host CPU.
- Specially designed Paravirtualized drivers boost performance for guests.
- Citrix VM Tools provide high-speed performance through input/output drivers.
- License prices accommodate small to medium enterprises.
- Since it’s an open-source platform, companies don’t have to deal with vendor lock-in issues.
- The platform has an intuitive graphical user interface that’s easy to learn.
- The snapshot capability allows users to recover operations and protect sensitive data from attacks.
- The platform has a quick setup without complex configurations.
- Citrix Hypervisor provides support for 3D graphics through their virtual GPU vendors.
- Minimal support for USB devices
- Lacks an advanced management tool for centralized administration of VMs
- Automation requires you to automate tasks with PowerShell scripts, which can be challenging for non-technical users
- Migrating VMs from an open-source environment to the Commercial XenServer platform is complex and time-consuming
Pricing information is not available on the company website but is provided on request.
IBM’s PowerVM system provides businesses with a low-cost and secure server virtualization platform for Linux, IBM, and AIX applications. The PowerVM system outperforms other virtualization technologies by allowing users to automate and scale deployments without affecting performance.
IBM also simplified Infrastructure management by making hardware resources independent of workloads, enabling users to meet service-level agreements (SLAs) on time and at a low cost.
The PowerVM platform combines hardware and software resources to present a single-priced platform.
- The core technologies powering virtualization include logical partitioning, micro-partitioning, dynamic logical partitioning, shared processor and storage pools, and an Integrated Virtualization Manager.
- It supports 20 partitions per processor, thereby providing additional flexibility.
- The runtime expert improves virtual input/output server setup, validation, and tuning.
- The platform offers shared storage pools for creating storage pools for virtual workloads.
- The VIOS performance advisor analyzes performance and makes recommendations for improvements and optimization.
- VMControl is the module for optimizing storage utilization, accelerating partition deployment, and increasing service availability through automation.
- The Integrated Virtual Manager controls partitions and servers from a single interface.
- Shared storage management simplifies management, increases resource utilization, and reduces infrastructure costs.
- Linked clones in PowerVM allow image sharing and reduce storage usage.
- Users can donate unused CPU resources to processor partitions to increase overall performance.
- Admins can conduct remote restarts and suspend and resume logical partition (LPAR) operations.
- IBM limits its VM technology to the Power Systems hardware. As a result, admins with third-party servers have to purchase different hypervisors for their VMs.
- PowerVM does not support Windows Operating System.
- IBM’s documentation on PowerVM needs updating.
IBM’s PowerVM offers several pricing options as shown below. IBM PowerVM also provides 40 always-free products and a $200 credit for 30 days.
|Shared Virtual Processor||$0.1209/Scale Out|
|Dedicated Virtual Processor||$0.4836/Scale Out|
|Shared Virtual Processor||$0.4232/Enterprise|
|Shared Virtual Processor||$1.6927/Enterprise|
Red Hat Virtualization
Built on Red Hat’s enterprise KVM and Linux, the Red Hat Virtualization platform supports intensive workloads, and users can deploy their applications on their Kubernetes platform, OpenShift.
Red Hat Virtualization banked on container technology to give their users more variety for developing, migrating, and scaling data-intensive applications that require high availability, low latency, and zero downtime.
- Red Hat Virtualization supports mixed applications deployed on containers and VMs.
- Users can add traditional VM workloads to new applications and decompose them into container microservices.
- KubeVirt, RedHat’s open-source service, enables users to operate VMs in Kubernetes.
- The platform is open-source, so users don’t have to deal with vendor-lock challenges.
- Their base license includes live migration and high availability for applications.
- The platform offers consistent management and is easy to use and upgrade.
- Slow security patch releases
There are two pricing tiers, as shown below. Red Hat Virtualization also offers a 60-day free subscription.
Choosing Virtualization Software
Virtualization is a powerful tool that can offer many benefits to any organization. The key, however, is finding the right type of virtualization software for your needs and understanding how it will impact your business in both short-term and long-term capacities.
As virtualization continues to evolve into new forms that are more accessible than ever before, so do the options available to network specialists, IT managers, CTOs, and CIOs. This guide should help you make an informed decision about which product is best suited for your organization’s needs.
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