Virtualization shoot-out: Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware

The leading server virtualization contenders tackle InfoWorld's ultimate virtualization challenge

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The performance test results show the four hypervisors to be closely matched, with no big winners or losers. The main differences emerged in the loaded hypervisor tests, where XenServer's Windows performance and Hyper-V's Linux performance both suffered. Overall, VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V turned in the best Windows results [see table], while vSphere, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, and Citrix XenServer all posted solid Linux numbers [see table]. The crypto bandwidth tests, where XenServer and vSphere proved three times faster than Hyper-V and RHEV, showed the advantages of supporting the Intel Westmere CPU's AES-NI instructions. Charts of a few of these test results are displayed below. 

Microsoft Hyper-V shined when running a Linux VM in isolation, but wasn't as consistent as the others at maintaining Linux performance when loaded with multiple active VMs.
Hyper-V certainly held its own in the bzip2 file compression tests, even when the hypervisor was stressed by multiple VMs.
Citrix XenServer often turned in the best raw Windows performance, but didn't always maintain it under a wide load. (The Sandra Whetstone benchmark measures floating point processing performance.)
Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere were the most consistent performers when running Windows VMs.
Citrix XenServer and VMware vSphere support the Intel Westmere CPU's AES-NI instructions, and Microsoft Hyper-V and Red Hat RHEV don't. It makes a big difference.
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