Top Virtualization Providers

Virtualization allows enterprises to run multiple virtual machines (VMs) atop a single server, including different operating systems (OSs). 

Virtualization is a critical technology for organizations that run high-performance applications, because it enables remote management and decreases hardware spending. Companies use virtualization to speed the process of deploying servers and improve backup and recovery operations in data centers

See below to learn about virtualization technology and the top virtualization providers in the market: 

Top providers in the virtualization market

Choosing the right virtualization provider

Red Hat

Red Hat Virtualization is an open-source enterprise platform that is in continual Red Hat logo. development. It supports both Linux and Windows workloads. Enterprises can manage their virtual machines through Red Hat Virtualization, building, migrating, and halting them when needed. Consider Red Hat if your company relies heavily on open-source software or uses Linux operating systems. 

Red Hat’s virtualization platform also integrates with other Red Hat solutions, like OpenShift and OpenStack. OpenShift, a containerization platform designed for hybrid cloud environments, allows enterprises to automate their Kubernetes clusters; Red Hat has an enormous partner network from which businesses can deploy multiple enterprise applications on OpenShift. The OpenStack platform is a cloud computing infrastructure solution that virtualizes hardware resources into designated clouds.

Key differentiators

  • Open source
  • Integration with other Red Hat platforms, including OpenStack and OpenShift
  • Widespread partner network 

VMware 

VMware vSphere is a cloud virtualization platform for running and managing applications. VMware logo. VMware provides one management console for updating and patching software in on-premises and cloud environments. If organizations want to run cloud-native applications on their existing IT infrastructure, they have the option to run vSphere with Tanzu, which permits containerized apps to run on mixed environments. 

vSphere is scalable up to 50% more hosts per cluster, according to VMware. It’s designed for high-performance software, like SAP HANA. This also includes artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)  workloads; VMware intends vSphere to support data-intensive applications, like ML services. If your enterprise is focused on machine learning or containerization, particularly managing Kubernetes environments, consider vSphere. 

Key differentiators

  • Tanzu, a solution for vSphere that allows enterprises to run containers in multiple environments
  • Suitability for ML applications and other heavy workloads
  • Single management console for software updates in multiple environments 

Microsoft

Azure Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is a comprehensive cloud platform that offers Microsoft Azure—Microsoft logo. virtualization services to enterprises, including Azure Virtual Machines, which are available for both Windows and Linux environments. Azure VMs can run high-performance software, like SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft’s own SQL Server. Azure VMs can have up to 12 TB of memory capacity as well as up to 3.7 million local storage IOPS for each virtual machine. 

Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is a containerization service available through Azure IaaS. Customers can deploy and govern Kubernetes clusters in multicloud, edge, and on-premises locations with one management tool. Azure also partners with Red Hat, making its OpenShift platform for hybrid cloud containerization available to Microsoft customers. Through this partnership, enterprises can employ a container platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and deploy clusters to Azure. Both Microsoft and Red Hat operate and monitor the service. 

Key differentiators 

  • VMs that can run high-performance, compute-intensive workloads
  • Partnership with Kubernetes through AKS
  • Partnership with Red Hat OpenShift

Citrix

Citrix offers virtualization for virtual applications and desktops as well as infrastructure. Its Citrix logo. hypervisor is a solution for virtualization management and securing virtual environments. Through the hypervisor, businesses can virtualize both their servers and their desktop environments and manage their VMs as well. Citrix also offers a management API, which allows remote control and configuration for virtualized guests; administrators can use API calls to bring VMs between different states. 

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops provides security features, like user authentication and policies. It supports bring your own device (BYOD) as well — Citrix offers a client that works on most devices and provides clientless HTML5 access. Enterprises focused on providing virtual environments for their employees’ desktops — or remote access to critical applications— should consider Citrix’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution.

Key differentiators

  • VDI solution with support for BYOD
  • Management API for Citrix Hypervisor 
  • Disaster recovery and backup features for Citrix Hypervisor

Oracle VM VirtualBox

Oracle VM VirtualBox is an open-source virtualization solution. For developers who regularly Oracle logo. test software on multiple operating systems, VirtualBox is a sandbox environment that supports multiple operating systems, including Mac OS. VirtualBox is a free tool. 

VirtualBox also has authentication libraries that allow enterprises to require authentication to access the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), a solution for remotely accessing applications on desktop computers and one of the biggest doorways for ransomware vendors. If your business needs to provide secure access to sensitive corporate information, VirtualBox provides a way to restrict application access to those who truly need it. 

Key differentiators 

  • Supports RDP authentication
  • Supports multiple operating systems
  • Free solution

Features of virtualization

Features of virtual environments and infrastructures include:

  • Multiple virtual machines residing on the same server 
  • Support for multiple operating systems on the same server
  • Abstraction from underlying hardware 
  • Isolated environment to perform sandbox testing 

Containerization is a form of virtualization that happens at the operating system level. Features of container virtualization include:

  • Isolation and immutability  or the inability to be changed by technology outside the container
  • Single packaged application with all of the dependencies needed to run it in multiple environments 
  • Easier workload migration

Benefits of virtualization

Virtualization frees enterprises from total dependence on hardware. Because virtual machines run on guest operating systems, multiple operating systems can run on the same server, hosted through a hypervisor.  

Virtualization requires less hardware, which decreases the cost of provisioning and maintaining servers. Multiple virtual machines can run on one server. 

Virtual machines are often easier to provision and deploy than hardware. Many virtualization software solutions allow enterprises to create and deploy multiple machines in a short time frame. 

Virtualization improves recovery timelines if data is compromised in an outage. Virtual machines are faster to provision than hardware, so a company can more quickly set up a storage location for applications that have timed out. 

Virtualization use cases

“After deployment of RedHat virtualization, we have been able to cut our yearly capital and operational expenses by 15%. Our developers performance has also improved due to an increase in no. of Linux and windows based virtual machines… I would strongly recommend… Red Hat if you are looking for a virtualization server in your enterprise. Technical support and service was up to mark with knowledgeable engineers.” –Manager in a data and analytics role, review of Red Hat Virtualization at Gartner Peer Insights

“Citrix has been an amazing vendor to work with; we’ve been able to deploy this across our entire organization of various OS (macOS, Windows, ChromeOS), and we’ve had absolutely no issues with both the technological side and the employee side. We’ve even been able to roll this out to our graphics teams, who sometimes lose access to their computers, and they’re able to run high-powered graphics programs. This is truly an amazing virtual environment that can scale with your needs.” –User in a sourcing, procurement, and vendor management role, review of Citrix Hypervisor at Gartner Peer Insights

Learn more about virtualization for enterprise applications: How Database Virtualization Helps Migrate a Data Warehouse to the Cloud

What to look for in virtualization providers

Choose a virtualization provider that meets your enterprise’s unique needs. If you know your data centers run containers regularly, select a virtualization platform that supports container environments or has a partnership with platforms like Kubernetes or Docker. 

Look for a virtualization platform or virtual machines that can support the workloads your business needs to run. This means sufficient computing power and storage space dependent on your company’s application and data requirements.

Identify a virtualization platform that supports the operating systems your business uses. If you’re a mostly Mac-based organization, for example, avoid providers that focus on supporting Windows- or Linux-based VMs. 

Select a provider that has the amount of customer support your company needs. If your IT team is smaller or less experienced, work with a virtualization vendor that is consistently available to assist with technical issues. 

Considering a managed infrastructure for your enterprise? Learn more about Top IaaS Providers

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a contributor for Enterprise Mobile Today, Webopedia.com, and Enterprise Storage Forum. She writes about information technology security, networking, and data storage. Jenna lives in Nashville, TN.

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