Virtualization Vendors: VMware vs. Microsoft vs. Citrix

The leading virtualization vendors have been actively maneuvering for market share. Who is ahead? Take a look at the virtualization product comparison chart.
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There has been lots of activity in the past six months since we last took a look at what the three major virtualization vendors Citrix, Microsoft and VMware, have been doing (see the most recent virtualization comparison: Virtual Server Comparison: Xen vs. Microsoft vs. VMware, 2010).

Citrix XenServer v5.6 is now available, released at the end of May. It has four different versions, starting with a free one that includes some utilities, and working up to a Platinum version at $5,000 that includes everything. They continue to manage both their own hypervisor and Microsoft's Hyper-V, too.

While Microsoft hasn't made any major changes to Hyper-V since they released Windows Server 2008 R2 late last year, the combination of R2 with Windows 7 makes for a more potent relationship. As more corporate desktops migrate over to Win7, expect to see more management tools later this year take advantage of this combination.

Finally, VMware has been busy as well. Earlier this summer, they came out with Workstation 7.1 with better support for Windows 7 clients. Look for some major announcements around their annual user meeting this fall. Here are three things to watch in the virtualization market for the remainder of 2010:

1. Migration and conversion tools continue to improve.

Hyper-V now has the ability to do live migration of running VMs between two hosts without any noticeable interruption of service. You can also migrate between hosts that are running different physical CPUs, such as from an Intel to an AMD server. (Download a white paper from Microsoft that covers Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Live Migration .)

Citrix has its XenConvert, its physical-to-virtual conversion tool and XenMotion, its live migration utility. The Platinum version of XenServer comes with physical provisioning and Site Recovery tools. The latter is a management application that has a series of graphical-based wizards that will take you through the various steps involved to create a plan, add the remote site, link the local and remote storage pools together, and test to make sure the plan actually does work.

Site Recovery will automatically make periodic disk snapshots of the protected VM. As part of its test process, the Storage Recovery software tool can actually bring up a new VM in an isolated virtual test network and make sure that it can start and replicate all the necessary data from the cloned server on the secondary site. While it only runs on limited storage hardware at the moment, it’s a good first step towards helping automate this complex process.

VMware has repackaged its vCenter Converter tool, which is still free. And there is a new VMware Go Web-service that is a new front-end management tool to walk you through the initial setup and VM creation. vSphere 4, its management tool, now comes in six different versionsstarting at $495 and topping out at $5,000.

Also on the VMware front, a new version of Hytrust's Appliance version 2.0 allows IT administrators to set up policies, access rules, and other security measures to segregate your virtual infrastructure from your users. This can prevent VMs from being copied or inadvertently stopped by users, for example.

In the past several months, a few new conversion tools have been released that are worthy of a closer look: Zinstall and Prowess' SmartDeploy. The former is used to convert a running Windows XP desktop to dual-boot XP and Win7 using some clever virtualization techniques. Unlike other migration solutions, you have your original XP machine that you can add and remove programs and generally treat as a real instance of that OS. The latter uses a VMDK virtual disk file and then converts it to a bootable Windows 7 desktop.

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Tags: Microsoft, virtualization, virtualization cloud, Citrix, VMware

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