Getting started with virtualization: Choosing a hypervisor

by Ameen Pishdadi, founder, GigeNET - There are two types of hypervisor technology to choose from when setting up your server virtualization program -- Type 1 and Type 2 hypervisors. While the relevance of the distinction is generally academic, and there is an ongoing discussion of whether there are bearings on performance and robustness, I believe there are qualitative differences between the two types.

Listed below are the benefits and examples of Type 1 and Type 2 hypervisors and how to choose the best solution for you.

[ Bare-metal desktop hypervisors: A primer ]

Type 1hypervisors

For speed and efficiency, the Type 1 hypervisors (also known as bare-metal hypervisors) are definitely better. Since they run directly on the hardware and manage it face to face, they are able to work without cutting through the various layers that hamper the speed of the Type 2 hypervisors.

Examples of Type 1 hypervisors include the open source Xen, Microsoft's Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Wind River, OpenSolaris, and VMware's ESX.

Type 2 hypervisors

Type 2 hypervisors run on client systems where considerations of speed are less important. They can be installed directly on the Operating system and are thus much easier to set up. In addition, Type 2 hypervisors support a much broader range of hardware since the hardware resources are provided by the underlying operating system on which it runs.

Examples of Type 2 hypervisors include Parallel Inc.'s Virtuozzo, Sun VirtualBox, MEDV, Microsoft Virtual PC, VMWare Workstation, and Parallels Desktop.

Making the choice

Which solution you decide to implement will depend not only on your business needs, but also your mentality. If you're looking for a cheap powerful hypervisor with great management tools, and you're also a hands-on kind of a person, you should go with a Type 1 hypervisor like Xen.

If your needs are not so specific and varied, and you're just looking for a quick way to virtualize your hardware but still need good support and management services, you should go with a Type II like Virtuozzo.

Of course, if you're a Microsoft fan, then you see the benefits in dealing with Microsoft. For example, all of its products work together, and it's much easier for Microsoft-based software to talk to each other. Given this outlook, you would probably go with the Hyper-V./p>

I hope you enjoyed this discussion on virtualization, and wish you success in your efforts.

For more virtualization tips, see:

VDI: 5 signs it's not for you

Set Up a Virtualization Server

Virtualization: Don't stop with the "low-hanging fruit"

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