How should you choose an open source virtualization technology?

In the face of so many options, how do you choose an open source virtualization technology? In this section of our guide, we review some of the standout considerations in choosing a virtualization technology and how the options we've outlined in this guide stack up.


Open source server virtualization software guide

Xen virtualization vs. KVM virtualization architecture

Inside Oracle VM virtualization

Red Hat Enterprise Linux virtualization architecture

Linux virtualization with Novell's SLES

How should you choose an open source virtualization technology?

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 The three major open source virtualization software technologies are quite similar. After all, they are all based on the same ingredients. Let's conclude this guide with a short list of characteristics to help you choose among the various open source virtualization technologies. First, you've read about Oracle's virtualization technology, Oracle VM. Oracle offers a decent technology with a Web-based management interface that is a pleasure to use. But Oracle VM is focused on Oracle environments and is thus optimized for an Oracle environment. If you don't use other Oracle applications Oracle VM is hardly an ideal virtualization choice.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) virtualization has a solid offering as well. The problem with RHEL's virtualization offering is that customers have too much choice. In the current release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Xen is the default virtualization solution, but with the acquisition of KVM, Red Hat has made a clear statement: KVM is the future. But the fact that KVM is not yet the default choice indicates Kernel-based Virtual Machine architecture is not ready for use. Thus the dilemma for Red Hat users: You don't want to build your virtualization environment based on technology that may disappear, but you don't want to build your solution on immature software, either.

Linux virtualization with Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) is clearer for the user: The virtualization architecture is based only on Xen, and you can use Novell virtualization for free; it comes as a standard offering in SLES. But with Novell's virtualization, management capabilities are limited, with only Virtual Machine Manager and the difficult virsh interface available. But for many environment, the management tool PlateSpin Orchestrate, on the other hand ,just seems to be too much. Red Hat, however. is working on oVirt, an open source Web-based virtualization interface, and this might be the technology that can make open source virtualization easy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sander van Vugt is an author and independent technical trainer, specializing in Linux since 1994. Vugt is also a technical consultant for high-availability clustering and performance optimization, as well as an expert on SLED 10 administration.

This was first published in January 2010

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