Hardware

Five things to think about when choosing a virtualization vendor

Is your company beginning to talk about server consolidation? Is virtualization new to you? If so, here are five things you need to think about before choosing a virtualization vendor.

Is your company beginning to talk about server consolidation? Is virtualization new to you? If so, here are five things you need to think about before choosing a virtualization vendor.

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The virtualization market is full of vendors for you to choose from. Deciding which virtualization vendor is right for you is not the easiest task if you are not familiar with the virtualization arena. Let's look a the five most important things to think about when choosing a virtualization vendor.

  1. Cost -- Before picking a virtualization vendor, you should research the cost of doing business using this vendor. Fortunately, you are in luck as the virtualization war has caused vendors to give portions of their software away for free in order to get your business. Don't roll over when it comes to price. Play hardball as these vendors are willing to negotiate for your business.
  2. Customer Support -- If you are new to virtualization and are not familiar with the technology, customer/technical support will be an important factor in your decision. I would recommend that you interview each vendor's support model to make sure that you will be able to get help during implementation as opposed to getting the response that you will need to hire our staff to help you implement our products. It always burned me up when I got that answer, and I figured out that they made portions of their product too difficult so that they could generate money.
  3. Licensing -- Licensing in general is the most confusing part of software. Just when you understand what the vendors are talking about, they change the rules. When you're researching a virtualization vendor, they will show you how much cheaper they are than the competitor, but what they fail to tell you is that when you purchase all the necessary licenses, they are MORE expensive. It is very important that you understand each virtualization vendor's licensing model.
  4. Implementation -- Before you choose a vendor, understand how long it will take to implement their technology into your infrastructure. Just because they are cheaper than another vendor doesn't make them cheaper overall. Let's say you save money on the purchase but then need to spend thousands of dollars extra in implementation to get started. It is important to understand how quickly you can implement the software before you make a decision.
  5. Management Software -- There are many vendors that have great virtualization platforms but poor management once the software is installed. It is important to research each vendor's management software for features such as live migration, scripting, CPU management, and high availability across all virtual machine host operating systems.

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15 comments
chamblin
chamblin

I believe stability is by far the most important aspect to consider. A companies track record is probibly the easiest way to see this. That is why I will stick with WMWare for the time being.

pgit
pgit

I say "customer" support because that was the option. Plain support is what I need, wherever it comes from. Since I use Mandriva, and they default to virtualbox, and the Mandriva forums are a great help, there I go: virtualbox.

bens
bens

The hardware compatibility is one a the few concerns for me. ESX has a wide range, but ESXi seems to be limited. I guess this falls under implementation costs, but two (HCL & cost) seem to go hand in hand.

Jaqui
Jaqui

If I was to impliment virtualisation, there are two equally important things the vendor has to supply: 1) easy control / setup of new virtualised systems. VMware so far has every other option beat on this one. MS' offering is not testable, it doesn't run on ANY os I have. 2) Reliability. If it can't guarantee 99.9999999% uptime then I might as well not use it. The High Availability segment of the commercial virtualisation software options is not included in the free, so this one adds the cost factor also.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

Let's try to get a discussion going to help people choose the right virtualization vendor.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

That was my primary problem with it when I first tried. VMware bridged the VM to the USB bus and attached printer where Virtualbox didn't provide the same kind of hardware support. I expected that it would develop quickly though.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

When I stared looking at VM applications it was compatability that was most important. VMware Server v1.0 provided support for briding USB devices along with more virtualized hardware. I could even run winXP in a VM to print through to a USB printer that is not supported outside of the Windows world. Booting a VM for a print job is much faster than stopping what I'm doing for a full system reboot to Windows. Next, I tried Virtualbox. I figured the FOSS option deserved a look since VMware remains a closed product (A great product, but closed). Virtualbox just did not have the same support for hardware. The USB bridge was missing among other things. Granted, it has likely evolved more since then. VirtualPC, well, when MS finally got it out on the market they couldn't make my option list. It only runs on a Windows host OS and at the time, it had horrid support for any OS beyond Windows. I need my VM application to run Windows, Unix like os and any other platform I can legaly get an install of. VMware comes closest to that.

juanemanon
juanemanon

The Primary reason, besides environment and lower power and cooling cost is that of HA. Who can beat providing redundancy to 8-10 server with just 2-3 physical boxes.

dgower
dgower

I need to be able to install various OSs without the VM limiting my options. I trust VMware.

bens
bens

Just a thought. They are based on XEN, but I think they are geared toward more server side virtualization, as they use a hypervisor and load directly onto hardware. They say they are 1/4 the price of VMWare, I haven't got around to trying them yet. I'm still using VMWare Server (old GSX), virtualizing 3 Server 03 boxes. Problem is, if the host OS goes down...they all go down. That's why I'm pushing for ESXi, it's free like the old GSX, just the HCL is so strict. Nothing like asking for 5k and getting it, only to find out ... the hardware just isn't compatible.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

HA is a big win in the virtualization space. You really can't go wrong implementing a HA solution with virtualization.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

I have not played around with it yet. I need to get some of their software to begin. I will let you know the results.

Steven S. Warren
Steven S. Warren

It is a snap to configure. Very easy. I think you will like it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'll admit that when I tried Xen I'd just figured out VMware and was pretty new at using the app. At that time I needed something on top of my host OS where Xen seemed to requiring being the VM enabled kernel that all other OS became a guest of including my host OS. I need to give Xen another try now that it's developed further though. When I finaly collect enough parts for a house server, I think it'll be a Xen test box before moving it into the wire closet for it's dedicated task.

3kl
3kl

If you are looking for the free world, ESXi came about basically to compete with XenSource (Which is now branded Citrix XenServer.) Both Virtual Iron and Citrix XenServer are based on XenSource. XenSource being open source has a HUGE hcl compared to VMware. Basically, if the computer was made the past 3 to 4 years it will work. For all of them you need to have dedicated hardware. They are all free at the base. XenServer's management at the free level blows the door off the other companies. It is also a vhd disk file now so it can power up systems on Hyper-V or XenServer.

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