This isn’t exactly the type of news I like to report but at the same time it can’t be ignored. The February/March 2009 issue of Virtualization Review magazine has an article starting on page 12 where Rick Vanover puts Hyper-V, XenServer, and ESX head to head to head. Some of the conclusions drawn are startling:
“For the first two tests of heavy workloads, VMware underperformed both XenServer and Hyper-V. For the lighter workloads on the third test, the results were almost indistinguishable across the platforms, but ESX had the best results in three of the four categories.”
“After doing these comparisons of ESX to Hyper-V and XenServer, it’s clear that at the hypervisor level, ESX is optimized for a large number of less-intensive workload VMs. For intensive workloads that may not be optimized for memory overcommit apps, Hyper-V and XenServer should definitely be considered-even if that means adding another hypervisor into the data center.”
Rick is saying that both Hyper-V and XenServer deliver better performance for the heavy workloads. ESX is better suited for lighter workloads and actually will handle more of them than Microsoft and Citrix making it the better “scale up” solution. Rick also points out that ESX offers the clear advantage of memory over commit which could not be benchmarked against Hyper-V and XenServer due to memory over commit not being available in the latter two products. For a moment, let’s assume that Rick’s findings are 100% accurate. From an options standpoint, how do you feel about scaling up versus scaling out for the lighter workloads having equal performance across all three platforms? Personally, I’d lean towards higher consolidation ratios, less capital expenditures, less datacenter and utility bill consumption. That’s the ESX option.
I’m concerned that I’m hearing ESX is underperforming against the underdogs. I’m not at all saying Rick’s tests are invalid but I am looking for a response from VMware that is either published, or in the form of ESX4 taking an obvious performance lead once again in benchmark tests. Charging a premium for a lesser performing hypervisor doesn’t sound like the right formula for success.
Update: Slight goof on the title of this blog post. Originally it stated “XenApp” where I meant “XenServer”