Virtualization shoot-out: VMware vSphere

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The world's leading server virtualization platform is still tops in performance, scalability, and advanced features

It should come as no surprise that VMware entered the test lab with the most feature-rich and problem-free solution of the four vendors in this virtualization roundup. After all, this is a market that VMware created and has dominated for years. VMware vSphere 4.1 is the most advanced server virtualization platform on the planet, and it's priced accordingly. However, when you dig into those numbers, balanced against the features and VM densities per physical host, vSphere might not be as pricey as you think.

From available features to ease of installation to performance, VMware is either ahead, well ahead, or at least on par with the competition. Depending on the skills available in your shop, you may find that you can wring sufficient functionality out of the Citrix, Red Hat, or Microsoft solution at lower cost in the long run. Nevertheless, if the goal is to bring the greatest possible consolidation, scalability, or availability to your virtual server farm, VMware is undoubtedly your best choice.

VMware vSphere installation
Installing vSphere was the work of just a few minutes. We mapped an ISO to the blades through Dell iDRAC's virtual media feature and fired it up; about 10 minutes later, a new VMware ESXi server was born. There's the small matter of configuring passwords and possibly management network addresses, but otherwise the host is ready to go.

The next step is to use the vSphere client to log into the single host and configure all the network, storage, and associated parameters. This too is a simple process, requiring only that VLAN IDs be entered when defining the network to use, adding a VMkernel interface for the iSCSI storage, and defining a network to be used for VMotion VM migrations.

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