Virtually Speaking: The Readers Speak Out

Amy Newman
ServerWatch's weekly virtualization column moves to Tuesdays, just in time for readers to name the best virtualization ecosystem and best virtualization tool.

Yes, it's Tuesday. No, you're not hallucinating. To deliver the news and analysis you've come to expect in a more timely manner, Virtually Speaking has moved closer to the start of the week.

The drawback, however, of being at the start of the week is that while many Virtually-Speaking-worthy developments are announced on Monday or Tuesday, news can happen any time. Like Wednesday. So be sure to check ServerWatch tomorrow for some big news that we're tracking in the virtual stratosphere.

Vendor announcements and analyst pronouncements are one way to gauge a market. Another way is to listen to what those in the trenches have to say. From its reader nominations to final voting, the annual ServerWatch Product Excellence Awards is one way to do this.

This year, two of the ten categories voted on related to virtualization — Best Virtualization Ecosystem and Best Virtualization Tool. More than 1,000 people voted in each category.

Voting ended last week. The results have been tallied and were made public today.

Best Virtualization Ecosystem

Few surprises here — from the nominees, which were the usual suspects: Virtual Iron, Virtual Server 2005 (Microsoft), Virtuozzo for Linux (SWsoft), VMware ESX Server, and XenEnterprise for Windows (XenSource) — to the winners.

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VMware, which claims more than 50 percent market share in the virtual ecosystem space, took in a whopping 64 percent of the vote and again took top honors for best virtual environment. ESX server is the heart of VMware's enterprise-grade virtualization offerings and includes VMware's hypervisor. ESX Server installs at the "bare metal" level, thus enabling as many unmodified operating systems as desired, along with their applications, to run in virtual machines that share physical resources.

Trailing VMware ESX Server, were the virtualization platforms from Virtual Iron, with 11 percent of the vote and XenEnterprise for Windows from XenSource, with 12 percent of the vote. Both environments are built on the open source Xen hypervisor. Like VMware ESX, both virtualize natively. Virtual Iron's solution delivers policy-based virtualization management for a shared pool of dynamic server, storage and network resources.

Initially released in November 2006, XenEnterprise for Windows offers an easy installation of the Xen open source hypervisor along with management and configuration interfaces. It also leverages the alliance Xen struck with Microsoft in July 2006 to provide interoperability between Microsoft's Windows Server virtualization and the Xen hypervisor.

Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 and SWsoft's Virtuozzo for Linux came in last with 7 percent of the vote apiece.

Best Virtualization Tool

While the virtualization environment is important, even more critical are the tools used to manage it, and there are no shortage of choices on the menu. Many of the vendors in the virtualization platform space offer tools to manage these increasingly complex virtual infrastructures, and many of the traditional infrastructure vendors are finding ways to solve the management issues that are a byproduct of virtualization. In addition, a number of ISVs have launched with products intended to manage virtual infrastructure management tools.

Finalists in this category reflected this demographic range: Data Center Intelligence (CiRBA), everRun HA (Marathon Technologies), IBM Virtualization Manager, ProLiant Essentials Virtual Machine Management Pack (HP) and VMware Infrastructure.

All deliver solid solutions that meet a variety of enterprise needs.

In the end, there can be only one winner, and IBM Virtualization Manager took the honors with 48 percent of respondents choosing the Big Blue offering. IBM's experience with virtualization goes back to its mainframe days — back when virtualization was known as partitioning. It has been a proponent of x86 virtualization for nearly a decade.

IBM Virtualization Manager is actually an extension of IBM Director that enables admins to discover, visualize and manage both physical and virtual systems from a single console. Virtualization Manager is compatible with VMware and Microsoft Virtual Server environments, as well as feature technology preview for Xen management.

As surprised as we were to see IBM take the lead, we were not at all surprised to see VMware take the runner-up spot with its VMware Infrastructure product suite. VMware Infrastructure picked up 36 percent of the vote. The suite is made up of eight components:

ESX Server, VMFS (a high-performance cluster file system for storage virtualization), Virtual SMP (a module providing multiprocessor support for virtual machines), VirtualCenter (the central spot to manage, automate and optimize the IT infrastructure), High Availability (a high-availability engine), DRS (a module that delivers dynamic balancing and allocation of resources), VMotion (live migration tool), and Consolidated Backup (centralized backup software for virtual machines).

HP's ProLiant Essentials Virtual Machine Management Pack didn't fare nearly as well as IBM's solution, picking up a scant 4 percent of the vote.

Data Center Intelligence for CiRBA and everRun HA (Marathon Technologies), picked up 2 percent and 10 of the vote, respectively. Not bad for two ISVs that are fairly new to the scene.

The full write up this year's winners is available at "ServerWatch Product Excellence Awards: The Winners Are ..."

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been following the virtualization space since 2001.

This article was originally published on Jun 5, 2007
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