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Everything you need to know about type-2 hypervisors

Although type-1 hypervisors are the popular choice today, there is still a market for type-2 hypervisors in an IT environment.

When you take a look at most IT environments today, you'll find that the majority of hypervisors used in production are type-1 hypervisors, but there are still those who prefer type-2. A type-2 hypervisor operates as an application on top of an existing operating system. But despite their popularity, there is a lot to know about type-2 hypervisors. There are different kinds for various operating systems and there's a big difference between type-1 and type-2 hypervisors. The low overhead and high efficiency of a type-1 make it a good choice for production environments. On the other hand, the low cost of many type-2 hypervisors make them options for test environments or home labs.

Here is everything you need to know -- or can learn -- about type-2 hypervisors:

The difference between type-1 and type-2 hypervisors

The biggest question many people have is what is the difference between type-1 and type-2? As mentioned before, a type-2 hypervisor runs on top of the operating system. On the other hand, type-1 hypervisors run right on the hardware, which is the reason they are also called bare-metal hypervisors or native hypervisors. Type-1 hypervisors are more common in production because of the low overhead, but there are certain situations that type-2 are a better fit.

Deciding if you need a type-2 hypervisor

VMware's ESXi is the company's popular Type-1 hypervisor, but VMware offers three different type-2 hypervisors and each one is made for different hardware and technical needs. VMware has Workstation, Player and Fusion and all three have a focus on a certain niche. If your environment has a need to run multiple VMs in Windows or Linux operating systems, Workstation would be a good choice for you.

Breaking down Workstation, Fusion and Player

When choosing between VMware's three type-2 hypervisors, it boils down to the specific needs of the environment. Although Workstation is an option to create a Linux VM on a Windows development computer, it comes with a price tag. That's where VMware Player becomes an option. Player has been described as a "lite" version of Workstation, but there are some features, such as snapshots and cloning, that aren't included with Player. Finally, Fusion has a very niche market. For those looking to run Windows operating system on a Mac, Fusion would be the type-2 hypervisor to choose.

Choosing the right type-2 hypervisor

Now that you know the differences among VMware's three type-2 hypervisors, it's time to make a decision. If you're looking to run Windows on a Mac, then the choice is likely going to be between Fusion and Fusion Pro. The determining factor there is whether or not the Pro version is worth the price tag. For the Workstation and Player, there is more to look at. You should examine how the features stack up against one another and then decide which one fits your needs -- and budget.

Test your type-2 hypervisor knowledge

Now that you've learned about type-2 hypervisors, it's time to see how much information you have retained. This type-2 hypervisor quiz will determine if you know which features belong to which VMware type-2 hypervisor offering. If you need to know how many vCPUs or how many virtual networks Workstation supports, this quiz will boost your type-2 hypervisor IQ.

Next Steps

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This was last published in July 2015

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