Comparing VMware ESX, VMware Server, Microsoft Virtual Server, Xen and XenEnterprise: Extra features

Ever wondered how to choose the right solution to virtualize your servers? Andrew Kutz offers a thorough analysis and comparison of the available options in this four-part tip. Part four covers additional features and offers a wrapup of the series.

In this series

  - Choosing the right server virtualization solution part one, introduction
  - Choosing the right server virtualization solution part two, technical specifications
  - Choosing the right server virtualization solution part three, management
  - Choosing the right server virtualization solution part four, additional features

Now for the final part of our comparison, a look at additional features. Part one covered the criteria for our evaluation and the administrative features. Part two covered technical specifications and support, and part three covered management and high availability. Part four also contains a wrapup and a list of sources for this article for your reading pleasure.

Additional features

Let's compare our five options on a few more features.

Available physical-to-virtual (P2V) solution
This part checks whether or not an available P2V software package works with the VMM to transform physical servers into VMs.


Available physical-to-virtual (P2V) solution

VMware ESX Server 2.5.3

Yes

VMware Server

Yes

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2

Yes

Xen 3.0

Yes

XenEnterprise

Yes

VMware provides a P2V tool, but at cost. Microsoft provides a free one, but it does not P2V Linux. Third-party tools can provide this functionality for Xen 3.0, and XenEnterprise provides this feature, but at cost. Because all of the solutions are pay-for or limited, there is no winner.

Winner(s): --

Loser(s): --

Integrated monitoring solution
Does the VMM comes with an integrated monitoring solution?


Integrated monitoring solution

VMware ESX Server 2.5.3

Yes

VMware Server

No

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2

No

Xen 3.0

No

XenEnterprise

No

All of the VMM solutions include integrated monitoring to some extent.

Winner(s): VMware ESX Server 2.5.3, VMware Server, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2, Xen 3.0, XenEnterprise

Loser(s): --

Integrated backup solution
Let's look at whether or not the VMM comes with an integrated backup solution.


Integrated backup solution

VMware ESX Server 2.5.3

Yes

VMware Server

No

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2

No

Xen 3.0

No

XenEnterprise

No

VMware ESX 2.5.3 Server provides backup scripts of the box, and for this it scores a point. Backups would not be at all difficult to configure for the other solutions, so they lose points because there is no out-of-the-box backup functionality.

Winner(s): VMware ESX Server 2.5.3

Loser(s): VMware Server, Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2, Xen 3.0, XenEnterprise

Summary

And the wins vs losses stack up like this:


VMware ESX Server 2.5.3

VMware Server

Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2

Xen 3.0

XenEnterprise

Administrative

1 to 1

1 to 0

1 to 0

3 to 0

2 to 1

Technical Specifications

3 to 3

3 to 3

3 to 3

3 to 2

4 to 1

Support

3 to 0

1 to 0

0 to 3

2 to 0

2 to 0

Management

2 to 0

2 to 0

1 to 0

1 to 1

3 to 0

High Availability

3 to 0

2 to 2

2 to 2

2 to 1

2 to 1

Additional Features

2 to 0

1 to 1

1 to 1

1 to 1

1 to 1







Total

14 to 4

10 to 6

7 to 9

13 to 5

14 to 4

Winner(s): VMware ESX Server 2.5.3, XenEnterprise

I think what is the most interesting about the results is not that VMware ESX Server 2.5.3 and XenEnterprise tied for the win, but in fact how close Xen 3.0 came to winning. With its community support, Xen 3.0 may end up eclipsing all other virtualization solutions in the not too distant future. Right now, however, I still recommend VMware ESX Server 2.5.3, because VMware has a proven track record when it comes to server virtualization. While XenSource has tremendous industry support, it has not withstood the test of time just yet. But who knows what the next year will bring?

Sources and further information


This was first published in May 2006

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