Oracle VM VirtualBox Review

Fast, very easy to use, and is rock-solid stable

What is our primary use case?

We use VirtualBox for running our ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and a host of websites. The underlying operating system is Solaris, which we run on VirtualBox virtualized, and it is running exceptionally well. Then I run VirtualBox as a hypervisor and use Windows (when necessary) and Linux. I run a whole host of websites on Linux virtualized using VirtualBox and we also run our ERP — Xpert ERP — on VirtualBox.

How has it helped my organization?

It has contributed to the flexibility that we have running our network.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature for me is the ease-of-use. With the GUI, it is easy to set up things and configure new things intuitively. It is a very good interface. VirtualBox is not as feature-rich as VMware, but the GUI from VirtualBox more than makes up for the features that it is lacking.

What needs improvement?

We are currently on version 5.1.38 but we are definitely going to upgrade to version 6. Some of what I would like to see in the future may already be in that release.

For me, it would be great to have a function where I can teleport from one machine to another machine just using the GUI. At the moment, this capability is only available via the command line. Other products like VMware and Windows Hypervisor already have that functionality. I think it would be an excellent addition and improve the product if Oracle implemented this functionality directly in the GUI. 

The feature I would like in addition to teleporting is that I would like to see more reporting capabilities. For example, it would be good to be able to easily report on the status of the servers and virtual machines. It would be enough just to get a list that says how much CPU power each machine is using, the amount of memory it occupies, etcetera. Something like a snapshot of everything in graphical format. A dashboard that actually combines all the reporting about what is happening on your virtualization would be valuable. Getting all the information at a glance is what I would like to see.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using VirtualBox for at least 10 years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I find the solution to be exceptionally stable. I've no reason to look for other solutions, honestly, because it is so stable. It just fits into your network and it just runs. No matter what you are doing, even if you do it wrong, nothing fails. The worst that can happen is that you allocate more resources than you actually have on the hardware platform. If you misallocate your resources and require more memory for your virtual sessions than is physically available on the platform, then you run into a little trouble. It doesn't fail, it just becomes a bit slow. Or it could get very slow, I guess, if you are careless. But it has never failed for me.

We live in an exceptionally small country. We have probably the lowest number of people per square kilometer in the world. There is only a group of about 20 or 25 IT professionals that I know about in our country. All of them are using VirtualBox. They are using other solutions as well, like Windows Hypervisor and VMware. The only reason why they do not convert 100% to VirtualBox from Windows Hypervisor and VMware is that they have already invested the money it cost them to get those solutions in the first place.

So, while VirtualBox is absolutely free and they definitely use it in their companies, it cost money for their companies to invest in Windows Hypervisor and VMware. It will not go over well if they just move away from those solutions to VirtualBox because they have already purchased them.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I think it is a very scalable product and it stays stable while you scale it. For example, while it is active on a production server, you can expand the capabilities. You can stop and start or add virtual machines. The only thing that you have to know is not to allocate more resources on that hardware platform than is available in the hardware. The scalability of the hardware is separate from the product itself. You can't scale the product bigger than the resources on the box.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have used Oracle technical support in the past for other products and I have been satisfied. But I never had to use technical support or any other resource to address problems I had using VirtualBox. There is not one situation where it was necessary.

How was the initial setup?

Setup is so easy to do that I think anyone can do it. It's even easier than installing Windows on a laptop. You spend literally just half-an-hour if you sit and oversee the installation. After that half-an-hour, you are as well-versed in the product as a guy that worked with it for ten years. I don't think the initial setup could be easier.

What about the implementation team?

I can do the implementations all by myself. It is very easy and it was really impossible to make a mistake. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The product is absolutely free to use.

What other advice do I have?

The VirtualBox solution is an absolute gem of a product. I definitely recommend this product to other people because it's super stable and easy to install and use. The only thing you need to ensure on your server is that you have sufficient hardware resources to accomplish what you want to do and that you supply the server with clean power. The server needs to be running all the time or you will have problems. If you put the box on a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), you are all set.

I choose to run the product on-premises all the time for our deployment and also for deployments to my clients. I also prefer to run VirtualBox on Solaris and Linux. In testing and in production using VirtualBox on Solaris is the best way to go, in my opinion. I do not implement production servers on Windows-based machines because of the many vulnerabilities in Windows. I tend to stay away from Windows as far as possible except for testing purposes on a laptop or a PC that runs Windows. I will use VirtualBox for that.

On a scale from one to ten, where one is the worst and ten is the best, I would rate this product an absolute nine. It has a little bit of room for improvement even though it is an excellent product. It is super fast. It is very easy to use. It is rock-solid stable. With just a few more features and added functionality, it will easily reach a ten out of ten.

Which version of this solution are you currently using?

Version 5.1.38 (On-premises)
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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