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vSphere, HyperV, KVM and Xen – choosing and monitoring your hypervisor

What is a hypervisor?

Essentially, a hypervisor creates and runs virtual machines, where software executes programs like a physical machine. It can enable businesses to save money and time, and improve management.

Among the most popular hypervisors is VMware's vSphere, a mature and well known system. But it is also worth noting the dramatic growth of the Microsoft Hyper V system.

Other businesses favor the open source approach, with Red Hat's KVM and the Xen Project's Xen systems. KVM is frequently cited as being designed for small to medium businesses, with Xen suiting the larger enterprise space.

System popularity

Opsview's survey of primary decision-makers in large and mid-sized businesses, revealed some fascinating insights into the choices businesses are making.

According to the survey, over 64% of businesses in Europe and North America plan to invest in virtualization this year.

VMware strongly dominates hypervisor choices, showing that traditional often wins, given the skills base and the long history of usage across industries. Some 54% of decision-makers stick with VMware virtualization.

Microsoft is strongly growing, with over 18% of those surveyed indicating a preference for HyperV.

Only 12% of those surveyed said they use the Xen or KVM systems, but this figure, as a part of a global demographic, still means that a large number of firms run these deployments.

How to choose

To some extent, an automatic option has been created for many businesses. Some will already have a relationship with VMware or access to the relevant skills. Given the maturity of the technology, it can also be an easy choice.

For those that have adopted the new Microsoft Windows Server 8 environment, they have already been offered an alternative. This is because the system already includes an upgrade of Hyper V. In addition, easy integration with an existing Microsoft orientated environment is also a temptation.

Many businesses have an open source preference, particularly in the datacenter. Such firms might be more inclined to go for the KVM or Xen systems, both of which have seen developers working hard to make the systems well supported, manageable and robust.

Price is also an important factor in decision-making, and some companies will shy away from the potentially high costs of the more mature and proprietary solutions.

Of course, there are many other more technical items to check when choosing a hypervisor. Some firms will be more inclined to spend high and go for vSphere, where there are some advanced key features such as fault tolerance, and also extensive options around third-party applications for specific business requirements. Others see Hyper V as a more cost effective option, ditching some of the functionality.

The open source options may please the administrators of Linux-based environments, but they need to be sure they have the skills base to maintain them. Some of the open source tools lack orchestration features offered by Microsoft and VMware, and this can be a maintenance and development problem for smaller IT shops.

One thing is certain: it is absolutely vital that businesses check their operating systems will integrate with the hypervisor they install.

Monitoring your environment

A key part of any successful hypervisor rollout is monitoring. Businesses must ensure they watch their virtualized environment, in order to check performance is reliable, any security concerns are addressed, and to successfully roll out and test upgrades and patches.

Opsview's monitoring technology supports VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Red Hat KVM and Xen and with the dashboards in Opsview Pro and Enterprise IT managers can easily view, in one display, all of the key events in their technology environment.

Try out Opsview's virualization monitoring with a free 30-day trial.

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by Opsview Team,
Opsview is passionately focused on monitoring that enables DevOps teams to deliver smarter business services, faster.

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