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VIRTUALIZATION TOOLS COMPARISON: VMWARE AND XENSERVER

10 Feb 2017

Any company appreciates an opportunity to save costs, for example, on buying computers. One way to do it is by virtualization which means creating a virtual platform that can run several different operating systems and apps. That way, less servers are needed. Companies that previously operated with several servers, sometimes even more than ten, can now use only one or a few powerful ones.

As virtualization becomes increasingly popular, it is important to be aware of the range of opportunities that this market sector provides. At the moment, the two leaders among virtualization service providers are VMWare and XenServer, leaving other providers such as Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat and others playing catch-up. This will be a general comparison between the two most popular virtualization tools – VMWare and XenServer.

One of the most prominent differences between both software products is that VMWare is a paid tool, while XenServer – which is developed by Citrix – is open-source and available in free and several types of paid versions, with the paid versions having increased functionality and options. Consequently, larger companies tend to use VMWare instead of XenServer. Since XenServer is open-source, it has a lower price-point when compared to its competitors (VMWare, for example). By using the virtualization tool from Citrix, the user pays for a physical server instead of server power or allocated memory, thus saving costs. XenServer also features free management functionality, whereas in VMWare everything is paid.

Both virtualization tools feature a wide range of functions – it is down to the company to figure out what exactly is it that they need and then choose the most appropriate virtualization tool for it. For example, if the company is already using other Citrix products, XenServer will probably be the better choice.

As for hypervizors or Virtual Machine Monitors (VMM), both VMWare and XenServer use a Type 1 hypervizor (bare-metal hypervizor), which means that the virtual machine software is installed directly on the host device without the need for a pre-installed operating system (as is the case with a Type 2 hypervizor).

There are plenty of differences between the most recent versions of both virtualization tools – XenServer 6.2 and VMWare ESXi 6. When comparing virtual operating system capabilities, it becomes apparent that XenServer is aimed at smaller companies as it offers only up to 16 vCPUs while VMWare offers 64 and it has less virtual memory and disk size. However, this does not mean that XenServer could be classified as low-powered – it all depends on what the client company requires.

To sum up, both virtualization tools work well and go nearly toe-to-toe in their functionality and options. VMWare has a few more functions, most of which are various time- and effort-saving tools. However, the basic functions of both tools are equally good and definitely contribute to the popularity of XenServer thanks to its amazing price-to-performance ratio.

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