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Hyper-V vs vSphere vs XenServer vs KVM─ comparing top hypervisors in 2018

Hyper-V vs vSphere vs XenServer vs KVM─ comparing top hypervisors in 2018

This article approaches the technical overview and comparison of best server virtualization software, from an application and performance point of view.

What is server virtualization?

Creating a virtual or isolated form of an IT environment is called virtualization. Typically, only a single application or operating system can be run by servers, which leads to inefficient resource utilization. When the servers are virtualized, a single server can run multiple applications and operating systems. It increases overall efficiency, as well as cost-effectiveness. The server virtualization software is generally referred to as hypervisor.

Best server virtualization software in 2018

Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere, Citrix XenServer, and Red Hat KVM, are the biggest players in the server virtualization market. Often, enterprises can’t decide which hypervisor will best suit their business.

The detailed comparison between major server virtualization software, on the basis of features, key factors including licensing costs, virtual machine density, training costs, hardware requirements, etc. will make the things easier for IT decision makers and end users to select the best hypervisor for them.

Comparison: Microsoft Hyper-V vs VMware vSphere vs Citrix XenServer vs Red Hat KVM

1. Microsoft Hyper-V

Launched in 2008, Hyper-V helps in expanding or establishing a private cloud environment. It promotes effective hardware utilization, improves business continuity, as well as makes development and test more efficient.

Microsoft Hyper-V server virtualizationFeatures of Microsoft Hyper-V:

  • Nested virtualization
  • Discrete device assignment
  • Cloud backup
  • Supports containerization
  • Quality of service (QoS) for software-defined networks
  • Supports resizing of virtual hard disks, memory, CPU while the VM is running
  • Live migration & Storage Migration
  • Replication (host to host replica for DR purpose)
  • Comprehensive security through Windows Active Directory
  • Storage Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Windows PowerShell Direct (new)

For further details about Hyper-V, you can read this PDF.

2. VMware vSphere

vSphere, the virtualization platform of VMware, is a set of products that not only includes virtualization, but also management and interface layers.

It provides a number of key components including infrastructure services (vCompute, vStorage and vNetwork), application services, vCenter Server, vSphere Client, etc.

VMware vSphere server virtualizationFeatures of VMware vSphere:

  • vCenter Server: A centralized management tool used to configure, provision and manage virtual IT environments.
  • vSphere Client: Enables remote connection to vCenter Server or ESXi from a Windows PC.
  • vSphere SDKs: Provides interfaces for third party solutions to access vSphere.
  • VM File System: Cluster file system for VMs.
  • Virtual SMP: Enables a single VM to use multiple physical processors at a time.
  • vMotion: Enables live migration with transaction integrity.
  • Storage vMotion: Enables VM file migration from one place to other without service interruption.
  • High Availability: If one server fails, VM is shifted to other server with spare capacity to enable business continuity.
  • Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS): Assigns and balances compute automatically across hardware resources available for VMs.
  • Fault Tolerance: Generates copy of primary VM to ensure its continuous availability.
  • Distributed Switch (VDS): Spans multiple ESXi hosts and enables considerable reduction of network maintenance activities.

Read this PDF for more information about vSphere.

3. Citrix XenServer

Based on Xen Project Hypervisor, XenServer is an open sourced bare-metal virtualization platform. It consists enterprise-grade features that helps enterprises to easily handle workloads, combined OS, and networking configurations.

XenServer provides improved virtualized graphics with NIVIDA and Intel, and allows execution of multiple computer operating systems on same computer hardware.

Citrix XenServer server virtualizationFeatures of Citrix XenServer:

  • Site Recovery
  • Host Failure Protection
  • Multi-server management
  • Dynamic Memory Control
  • Active Directory Integration
  • Role Based Administration and Control (RBAC)
  • Mixed Resource Pools with CPU Masking
  • Distributed Virtual Switch Controller
  • In Memory read caching
  • Live VM migration & Storage XenMotion

For details, you can read this PDF.

4. Red Hat KVM

KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), a part of Red Hat Virtualization Suite, is a complete virtualization infrastructure solution. KVM turns Linux kernel into a hypervisor. It was merged into the Linux kernel mainline in kernel version 2.6.20.

Red Hat KVM server virtualizationFeatures of Red Hat KVM:

  • Container support
  • Scalability
  • Overcommit resources
  • Disk I/O throttling
  • Hot plug of virtual resources
  • Low cost virtualization solution
  • Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization programming & API
  • Live Migration & Storage Migration
  • Assign any PCI device to virtual machines
  • Red Hat Satellite integration
  • Disaster Recovery support

Read this feature guide about KVM for details.

vSphere vs XenServer vs Hyper-V vs KVM 

Feature Hyper-V 2016 vSphere 6.5 XenServer KVM
RAM/Host 24TB 12 TB 5TB 12TB
RAM/VM 12 TB for generation 2; 6 TB 1.5TB 6 TB
1 TB for generation 1
CPUs/VM 240 for generation 2; 128 32 240
64 for generation 1;
VM Disk 64 TB for VHDX format; 62TB 2TB 10TB
2040 GB for VHD format
VM Live Migration Yes Yes Yes Yes
VM Replication supports Yes Yes Yes Yes
Overcommit resources No No No Yes
Disk I/O Throttling Yes Yes Yes Yes
 Hot plug of virtual resources Yes Yes Yes Yes


For any query related to hypervisors, please comment below!

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  1. Did you test XenServer 6.5 in 2018?
    In the details link is the link to XenServer 6.5.
    Check the feature in XenServer 7.3 (2018) here with the correct link:

    • Hi Marc, we have updated the link. Thanks for getting in touch!

  2. Thank you for the great post

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