InfoWorld reviews Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat and VMware virtualization solutions

Last week InfoWorld published the results from a test comparing the solutions from Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat and VMware held at the Advanced Network Computing Lab at the University of Hawaii. Each solution was tested on the same hardware and network topology. Real-world and synthetic Linux and Windows performance benchmarks were run, and subjective management and administration tests were performed.

The following products were compared:

  • Citrix XenServer 5.6.1
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization for Servers 2.2
  • VMware vSphere 4.1

The test plan involved measuring Windows and Linux performance on bare metal hardware and comparing that to measuring the performance of Windows and Linux running on top of the hypervisors from the vendors involved in the test. The Linux tests consisted of converting a 150MB WAV file to MP3 using the LAME encoder on Linux, as well as using bzip2 and gzip to compress and decompress large files. And SiSoftware’s Sandra was used to conduct the Windows tests, focusing on CPU and RAM performance, but also including AES cryptography.

InfoWorld also looked at host configuration, VM templating and cloning, updates and patching, snapshots and backups, and scripting options, and examined advanced features such as load balancing and high availability.


The article gives more details on how the features were evaluated, including the results of the performance tests, comparison of the features and pricing resulting in the following conclusions:

The results showed that all four solutions combine very good hypervisor performance with rich sets of management tools. But the solutions are not all equal in either performance or management. Although VMware is no longer the only game in town, choosing an alternative certainly involves trade-offs.

VMware still has advanced capabilities that the others lack. VMware also offers a level of consistency and polish that the other solutions don’t yet match. The rough edges and quirks in Citrix, Microsoft, and Red Hat aren’t showstoppers, but they demonstrate that these alternatives all have hidden costs to go along with their (potentially) lower price tags.