Virtualization benchmark wars break out - again

By Manek Dubash, Techworld.com |  Storage

Benchmark wars are back in the virtualization world as VMware rebutted Oracle's
claim that its newly-released virtualization hypervisor is three times faster
than VMware's.

Oracle released its Xen-based hypervisor, Oracle VM, on 12 November, claiming
that it was "three times more efficient than existing products from other
vendors" - a thinly veiled reference to market-leading vendor VMware, and
a claim made repeatedly in several of its marketing materials, even in the same
document.

VMware blogger Steve Wilson, who works for Sun Microsystems, disputed Oracle's
claim. In his blog, copied onto VMware's site, he said:

"Despite the reports about 3x faster, what Oracle said was actually, 'Oracle
consistently saw much better resource utilisation with an average of three times
less overhead using Oracle VM.' In benchmark-speak, that's a lot different than
3x faster. In fact, I'm guessing that someone constructed a benchmark that shows
Oracle VM running at 99 percent of native speed, while VMware ran at 97 percent
of native speed - 1 percent overhead instead of 3 percent. Yes, 'three times
less overhead', but ultimately trivial."

However, the spat may not be that serious. VMware points out that its hypervisor
is optimised for use with large databases such as Oracle.

And on Oracle's release of Oracle VM, VMware said it welcomed Oracle's entry
into the virtualization space, but regarded Oracle as more of a partner than
a competitor. "We hope this will be the first of many steps that Oracle
takes towards broad enablement of virtualization," said Parag Patel, vice
president of alliances for VMware.

Wilson added: "Of course, in the long term, there will be better official
benchmarks of VM performance, but the real test will be customer metrics like:

* How fast can I roll out a new application?

* How many system admins do I need to run my datacentre?

* How much energy can I save by operating my datacentre in a new way?

"These kinds of metrics are really more about management tools than hypervisor
performance. It's going to be an interesting ride through these virtualization
benchmark wars the next couple of years while this all shakes out."

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