XenSource refutes VMware ESX performance claims – sort of

Contrary to VMware benchmark tests on Xen 3.0.3, XenSource is claiming that its XenEnterprise 3.2 beta performs almost as well as ESX 3.0.1.

Responding to benchmark tests published by VMware Inc. this February, open-source virtualization rival XenSource Inc. has published its own results comparing VMware ESX 3.0.1 and the XenEnterprise 3.2 beta. In tests, the company was able to show that XenSource code had near-ESX performance in most cases, and surpassed it in a few instances.

In tests, the company was able to show that XenSource code had near-ESX performance in most cases, and surpassed it in a few instances.
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"XenEnterprise performs as well as ESX in most benchmark tests, a remarkable achievement for a first product," XenSource stated in its report. "Given that we have not spent much time optimizing our product for traditional benchmarks we are pleased to see that there is essential no difference between the two products."

In contrast, the initial VMware paper showed ESX outperforming Xen by a wide margin. In the SPECcpu2000 benchmark, for example, "Xen 3.0.3 shows twice the overhead of ESX Server, an average slowdown of 6 percent compared to 3 percent," according to the VMware paper . For the Passmark benchmark suite, "Xen 3.0.3-0 shows almost twice the overhead, an average slowdown of 17 percent compared to 9 percent for VMware ESX Server."

The benchmarks look at running a single virtual machine on ESX and Xen versus running an operating system natively. XenSource ran six separate benchmark tests: SPECcpu2000 Integer, Passmark, Compile Workloads, Netperf, SPECjbb2005, and SPECjbb2005 on Linux. ESX outperformed XenEnterprise on SPECcpu2000, Passmark, Compile workloads, and Netperf. XenSource results showed XenEnterprise outpacing ESX on SPECjbb2005 on Linux.

XenSource 3.2 release on hand
Roger Klorese, XenSource senior director of product management, said that his company hopes to update the results by the time XenEnterprise 3.2 comes out of beta early next month. "There are a few optimizations we hope to do by the time it releases," Klorese said, mainly around build and compile times for Windows guests.

But performance only takes you so far, Klorese said. "Performance is more of a no than a yes," he said. "People will not adopt a solution is if doesn't get them where they want performance-wise, but in the end, ease of use and functionality are more important."

Bogamil Balkansky, director of product marketing at VMware, concurs. "Stability and uptime matter more to customers. If the thing runs really fast for three minutes, then crashes, that's not a very good situation."

The XenSource 3.2 release will focus on improved guest support (Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP), iSCSI, VLAN trunking for virtual bridges, and CPU, memory and disk resource control.

Another release in June will add further management features, Klorese said. "You'll see us coming in to 64-bit and classic [high availability] and [disaster recovery] uses."

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director

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