Virtualization shoot-out: VMware vSphere

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

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VMware vSphere turned in the fastest VM deployment and migration times of any solution. The VAAI (vStorage API for Array Integration) storage off-loading functions showed marked improvement in VM delete, copy, and deployment operations. Deploying VMs from templates generally took less than 30 seconds -- lickety split. (Citrix XenServer can also off-load storage operations through integration with compatible storage arrays.)

This speed was also bolstered by the natural operation concurrency inherent in ESXi. Powering large numbers of VMs on or off is a parallel operation that takes far less time than other solutions that serialize these tasks. This is especially true when migrating a large number of VMs off a single host if that host is having problems or needs to be taken down for maintenance. Where it may take hours for this to happen on other solutions that perform the migrations one at a time, vCenter can migrate many VMs at once, to different hosts, dramatically reducing the time required. In real-world terms, this can mean the difference between getting a downed infrastructure back online for the start of the working day after an abrupt power outage and missing that goal by many hours.

It's easy to see that VMware has the best, most feature-rich solution on the market. It's years ahead of the competition in many ways and will likely continue to lead the field for many years to come. However, many of the large-impact features that the company has been leaning on are appearing in competing products. For numerous shops, the need for load balancing, high availability, and live VM migrations precluded the use of other virtualization frameworks. Now that those features are present and reliable in lower-cost solutions, some of the wind may be taken out of VMware's sails.

VMware vSphere is certainly the Cadillac of server virtualization, but suddenly the competition isn't just Yugo and Volga. Red Hat, Microsoft, and Citrix are making it a much closer race than ever before.

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This article, "Virtualization shoot-out: VMware vSphere," was originally published at Follow the latest developments in virtualization and cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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