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SOFTWARE

An Overview of Virtualization Solutions
By: Barzan "Tony" Antal
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    2009-07-21

    Table of Contents:
  • An Overview of Virtualization Solutions
  • Solutions Overview
  • Solutions Overview, continued
  • Conclusions

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    An Overview of Virtualization Solutions - Solutions Overview


    (Page 2 of 4 )

    For most people that are already somewhat familiar with virtualization, as soon as they hear the term, the name "VMware" comes to mind. VMware is one of the leading companies in software development, with more than 6,500 employees; they offer high-performance, robust, bleeding-edge virtualization solutions. They not only target single physical computers, but also hundreds that may be interconnected.

    Millions of people all over the world are using their products to save time, energy, and money; from commercial businesses, enthusiasts, professionals, and government organizations up to educational institutions. All of their products offer a great deal of flexibility and scalability, and perform amazingly well. If need be, they made it possible to create a huge virtual infrastructure. This is really amazing.

    In this article we’ll mention two of VMware’s products; both of them are free. But it should be noted that VMware has a dozen products, all of which are virtualization software. The first product that we’ll cover here is called VMware Player. It can be downloaded right from the official website. This application allows the running of guest virtual machines that are compatible with VMware products. But it cannot create new VMs.

    This is one of the entry-level applications; its main advantage is its size. Sometimes you may not need to create new virtual machine images, but just play with (run and use) already existing ones. For these times, VMware Player is ideal. However, if you still want to create new virtual machine images and manipulate those image files, then you can use third party free utilities such as EasyVMX! to do so.

    VMware has another product, called VMware Server. It is also free and comes jam-packed with many more features than the Player. This version makes it possible to create, edit, and play virtual machines in the VMware compatible format. It also supports the Microsoft Virtual PC format, which is going to be introduced and discussed later in this article.

    VMware Server has a few widely publicized and known limitations. These include the following: lack of 3D hardware acceleration support, no support for FireWire, and only three mouse buttons are supported. There is no official support for Windows Vista 64-bit either, but the installation will not fail. It’s been tried and tested; the OS works fine.

    Along with these aforementioned issues, the clock inside the guest OS ends up slightly inaccurate (during the emulation some CPU cycles are swallowed). Due to this, the Windows Time Service cannot be relied upon and therefore should not be used within NTP (Network Time Protocol) servers. It’s not a huge deal-breaker, though.

    In addition to the previously mentioned list of features, VMware Server is also capable of “taking snapshots” of the currently running (emulated) virtual machine. Later on it is possible to revert to those saved snapshots; this improves productivity by saving both time and effort.

    VMware’s top-of-the-line product that is akin to the cherry on the cake targets enterprise-level environments and comes for a fair price. It’s called VMware ESX. First of all, the main difference compared to the aforementioned VMware Server is that it offers far better performance due to the lower overhead. Its code is optimized to run as many executions only on the CPU as possible (thus, native hardware- based), as opposed to the software. It also fully integrates into the VMware Virtual Infrastructure suite.

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