The musings of an IT Consultant

Aug 2 2008   8:16PM GMT

Bare Metal Hypervisors

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

With Hyper-V out now, the virtualization marketing machine from all the different virtualization companies is in full swing. The battle is on and it looks like it’s going to be an ugly one. With virtualization pros on either side spouting the virtues of their product and claiming why one is better than the other.

Within the past few days I have read about a ton of cost comparisons between all the different offerings out there between Hyper-V, XenServer, and VMWare. I think at the end of the day, you need to delve a little deeper and look at the differences between the technologies that make up these products and what they mean to you and your business.

 One of the core differences that is important to me (and might not be important to you, depending on your needs) is the level/classification of hypervisor that is employed by the various companies. VMWare and Citrix both offer what are called level 1 or type 1 classification hypervisors. These are hypervisors that install on bare metal without an underlying OS. Whereas Microsoft offers Hyper-V only installed as a role on Windows 2008. This is what is called a level 2 hypervisor or type 2 classification hypervisor.

This is important because anytime you have a virtual product using a level 2 hypervisor, the hosting OS gives a larger footprint to attack and can compromise the security or stability of the box more than a level 1 hypervisor would. Now for non mission critical servers this wouldn’t be much of an issue, but for mission critical virtual machines this could be the difference between choosing which virtualization product is right for you.

However, it is said that Microsoft will be developing a level 1 hypervisor. We will have to wait and see how this progresses, because once this comes out, the lines will be even further blurred between the different competitors.

-RP

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