VMware vs. Xen vs. Microsoft

A comment made:

Yeah, sure, your costs might drop, but you really think their Linux support will be better than VMware’s support? VMWare’s support is horrible enough, and they don’t make a competing product.

I’ve actually had really good experiences with VMware support. The only bad part about it has been that they are learning about their products just as we are. Take support for our EMC CLARiiON CX700s. We were having horrible I/O performance, and the solution for it, after lots of back & forth with VMware support, ended up being found by me in a pair of slides from VMworld.

The compelling reason to continue using VMware VirtualCenter and ESX Server products is that in 3.0, which I am running in beta, they completely rethink the way resource management happens. Especially in regard to billing & chargeback, as you’ll be able to solidly define resource pools that VMs are part of. Pay for 5 GHz, get 5 GHz. They also have VMotion, where you can move running VMs between physical ESX Servers. That is awesome — making infrastructure changes is so easy with that.

XenSource claims they will have that feature, but it remains to be seen since they haven’t released a product. Microsoft doesn’t offer it. VMware’s free Virtual Server beta doesn’t have it. Solaris 10 zoning can’t do it. IBM’s LPARs cannot do it. VMware is actually addressing the problems of having a virtual infrastructure, whereas the others are just helping you create virtual machines.

Being first in a market is a precarious position, though, since your competitors see exactly what it will take to compete directly with you. Hopefully VMware will continue thinking about virtual infrastructure problems and less about virtual machines…

Update: I addressed the I/O problems I was having with another post.

8 thoughts on “VMware vs. Xen vs. Microsoft”

  1. I think what with Server and Player being free from here on in that’s pretty much the strategy going forward. You’ll see Microsoft shove their hypervisior into Windows, the Linux crew are doing that today with Xen, and VMware are opening up different parts of their technology and file formats.

    Creating and running VMs is a neat trick, but it’s not a long term business strategy.

  2. Not by itself, no. I think the potential for people to really do some dumb stuff is high with virtualization. Especially when it comes to overcommitting resources.

    Lots of VMs also expose infrastructure problems. Virtualization is all about hardware consolidation, but not about OS image consolidation. Suddenly you have hundreds of new virtual machines, because it’s easy to create them, and now you have to worry about managing them, licensing, etc.

    As always, the technology isn’t a solution, it’s just different set of problems.

  3. “We were having horrible I/O performance, and the solution for it, after lots of back & forth with VMware support, ended up being found by me in a pair of slides from VMworld.”

    I am also seeing I/O problems… What was your problem, and how did you resolve it?

  4. Thanks for posting your experience and your solution for the problem (your May 20, 2006 post).

    lonesysadmin: “We were having horrible I/O performance, and the solution for it…”

    Just wondering which application you were getting bad performance for on the CLARiiON. It’d be nice if you could detail the workload and whether it was a synthetic or real application. Feel free to contact me offline as well.

    I’ve read your May 20, 2006 posting for the details of the solution from Bala Ganeshan’s VMworld talk but you didn’t talk about your workload. Take care,


  5. Hi,
    I would like to know more about what you mean by virtual infrastructure, would that include monitoring the virtual machines, and knowing exactly their resource demands, keeping accounts, load balancing them, and providing health checks within the virtual infrastructure, as i am not sure that these are already available in vmware yet? are they?


  6. Walid, I think what they are referring to is having all the network servers running as virtual machines, on either one or more servers.

  7. VMware unfortuately has the worst support ever. You spend a lot for it, and basically they’ll try to draw it out until you either resolve your own problem, or you just get fed up and reinstall. The VMotion option is just there so that you can move your VM off the server and reinstall ESX.

    Recently I tried QEMU under Linux, and would really rather push my clients to try alternative options for Virtualization.

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