KVM vs. VMware vSphere

As of February 2019, KVM is ranked 3rd in Server Virtualization Software with 5 reviews vs VMware vSphere which is ranked 1st in Server Virtualization Software with 92 reviews. The top reviewer of KVM writes "I find the density of the product most valuable". The top reviewer of VMware vSphere writes "Putting some VMware ESX storage tips together". KVM is most compared with VMware vSphere, Hyper-V and Oracle VM VirtualBox. VMware vSphere is most compared with KVM, Proxmox VE and Hyper-V. See our KVM vs. VMware vSphere report.
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KVM Logo
Read 5 KVM reviews.
56,102 views|40,849 comparisons
VMware vSphere Logo
103,085 views|45,875 comparisons
Most Helpful Review
Find out what your peers are saying about KVM vs. VMware vSphere and other solutions. Updated: January 2019.
317,440 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Quotes From Members

We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use. Here are some excerpts of what they said:

Pros
It is an open ecosystem, and we see there is a benefit in open-source solutions.I think nine out of the ten supercomputers in the world use Linux KVM, so I think that attests to the fact that it is a scalable product.I find the density of the product most valuable. It is density that a technologist can just assign page merging. This is what makes KVM one of the important players of the virtualization market.The initial setup was simple.KVM has a rich options set which can be directly used or via wrappers, such as libvirt.If you are a Linux desktop user, KVM is the solution to go with if you have to start virtual machines with Linux or other operating systems with almost zero extra configuration needed.A very reliable solution which can be used for x86 architecture virtualization with reasonable overhead.

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Gathering all of the hosts together to create one single pool across the enterprise is a terrific feature.It is a powerful solution that enables us to take a snapshot and clone any version of machine.It has high clustering and availability features. These features are not found with other hypervisors.We saved a lot of time and hardware with this solution. It also prevents fewer incidents.It is fairly easy to use and has enhanced security.It is highly scalable. We need to scale out and up, and we can do that with vSphere. We can easily add more storage, drives, or memory.It is highly scalable. We can add new hardware and expand the infrastructure easily.As an end-user, I would say it has allowed us to have the flexibility of moving around our workloads on different machines, and not having to worry if anything is down.

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Cons
We would like to have a software lifecycle solution included in this solution. We can handle the software needed for KVM, but also the software that we provide. A lifecycle component would be very beneficial.Technical support is not top-notch.The stability of this solution is less than other products in the same category.The KVM tech support is really bad. They are not very responsive.The only negative aspect of needing hardware support is a fully functional KVM can be dropped. It would be nice if the support for other platforms, like ARM or Risk, were as good as the x86 one. However, with the democratization of Chromebooks based on these chips and mobile devices, it will not take long for that to happen.

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It needs to integrate better between multiple modules.This solution should have a better backup policy. Furthermore, there should be an ability to expose the universal machine. In the current version, you need to shutdown and use an offline virtual machine to backup.I would like to see VMware head towards a more GPU friendly environment.I would like to see more software as a service solutions.The technical support is poor. We are in Australia, but we do not have the same level of support as the US and Europe.We stopped using a lot of cloud services. However, I see that VMware has integrated with Amazon Cloud. We will now to have to move everything to the cloud.The management of the product demonstration is weak.In addition, I think some of the backup features or the prediction features can be improved.

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Pricing and Cost Advice
It is cheaper than other solutions out there on the market.It is cheaper than other competitors like VMware or Hyper-V.This solution came with the Linux license.​It is free and can be run from your laptop, if needed, unlike VMware.​

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The pricing is a bit complex.It is expensive. Other solutions on the market are free. We had to plan with VMware how many hosts that we needed in order to determine the price.The pricing is a little expensive. The licensing is a bit complex.The price is high. It would be nice if VMware made a price reduction.VMware licensing and pricing are a bit more expensive compared to others, like Hyper-V. However, you get what you pay for.I think the cost should be reconsidered. VMware is not the cheapest solution out there, despite the fact that it may be one of the best.I did a comparison between physical server to virtual. There was a point in time where we would size out a virtual server to be a massive size, then we'd buy a physical server of the equivalence. We saved somewhere around 20 percent going virtual, as opposed to the physical equivalent.The pricing is justified. It may be a bit high, but the features are worth it.

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Answers from the Community
Rhea Rapps
Fábio RabeloReal User

I have read a lot of valid arguments, and, unfortunately a lot of flawed arguments too .
What I will write here is based on my personal experience , I run a half dozen Enterprise level vitualized environments :
For the perspective of most of my customers, the main difference are the ability to audit the code of KVM ( witch are Open Source ) and a lack of it in VMWare .
VMWare is a black box, no one knows what happens inside of it, what are done with the VMs that are running over it .
Insted of it, with KVM, you know exactly what is happening . You know that KVM are not sending sensitive information about your VMs, or statistics about your environment to the vendor .
In second place comes the TCO :
KVM are not completely "free", you need some tools to manage it, but it is WAY cheaper compared to VMWare .
Lot of vendors says that "VMWare runs the world" , really ?
Amazon runs over XEN, Google and Facebook runs over KVM, and Microsoft runs over Hiper-V, sum all 4 and you will have more than a half of the big players on earth, so, from where comes that statement ?!?
About performance, nowadays there are no big difference between all the systems, technology blurred the lines between Type 1 and Type 2 Virtualization approaches .
Open source management systems ( Like Proxmox used by Facebook ) leveled the line between Commercial and non-commercial tools .
Yes, there are some scenarios that VMWare makes sense, buts the decision on witch are better for a particular user case goes down to the details .
Think about that before spend your budget of 2 or 3 years in one tool .

Fábio Rabelo

28 February 18
Takue ChaparadzaReal User

I'd say the main difference that sticks out like a sore thump is the KVM is Opens source and VMware vSphere isn't. VMware is indeed the Rolls Royce of virtualization but doesn't come cheap. One has to have deeper pockets to access the finer enhanced features of the vSphere packages. KVM on the other, is also a stable Hypervisor and very popular with Linux inclined techs and gurus. Personally i'd encourage one to take the VMware vSphere route because of the solid global support of the product, the additional virtualization feature rich set offerings like vSAN & NSX and ease of use from the onset.

23 February 18
Jun Kai NgReal User

KVM is a simple and OpenStack-preferred virtual machine manager. vSphere is a different beast altogether, as it is expensive and ridden with lots of add-ons for VM infrastructure provisioning.

One answer to your question will be a company that can afford and wants to have a stable and long-term VM infrastructure can consider VMWare, as KVM is considered as a bare-bone VM manager.

The actual comparison should be between VMWare and OpenStack, as one is paid and one is free to deploy. The deployment for OpenStack can be a little trial and error as it is free and modular, and VMWare is fully-packaged, and it is easier for you to deploy, but at a cost that is calculated by per host.

22 February 18
Allan TrambouzeConsultant

KVM Doesn't have any Dynamic ressource allocation like VMware (DRS). support is not the same you can have a community support or you can get Redhat RHV for entreprise paying support. With VMware vsphere you will get one yo three years support with your purchase.
Don't forget to look to other alternative like acropolis from Nutanix, XEN, RHV and Hyper-V also. Define your need and chose the product that will fit best your need. Don't forget there is also a free version of VMware esxi with no central management available.
Personnaly for a single host i ll go to free ESXi or Hyper-V if my company is using windows. For linux i ll go to acropolis or ESXi.
If i want to do some openstack i ll go with KVM or ESXi with Vmware integrated openstack.
For a small datacenter or big VMware offer a lot of features and hyper-v a little less. If you have a lot of windows licence Hyper-v will be cheaper than vmware. VMware is robust and can be scale up and out easily.

18 October 18
Redouane BouzeghoubReal User

KVM is Hypervisor and vSphere is platform but Ovirt is platform with KVM.
The big difference it's cost but vMware is leader on Virtualization.

22 February 18
Ranking
Views
56,102
Comparisons
40,849
Reviews
5
Followers
611
Avg. Rating
8.8
Views
103,085
Comparisons
45,875
Reviews
91
Followers
1,430
Avg. Rating
8.8
Top Comparisons
Compared 22% of the time.
Compared 22% of the time.
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Compared 27% of the time.
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Compared 10% of the time.
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KVM
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VMware
Overview
KVM (for Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is a full virtualization solution for Linux on x86 hardware containing virtualization extensions (Intel VT or AMD-V). It consists of a loadable kernel module, kvm.ko, that provides the core virtualization infrastructure and a processor specific module, kvm-intel.ko or kvm-amd.ko.

VMware vSphere is the leading server virtualization platform with consistent management for virtual data centers.

Deliver business value from day one with powerful server virtualization, breakthrough availability, safe automated management and intelligent operational insight that adapts to your environment. Automate workload placement and resource optimization based on preset customizable templates.

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Sample Customers
MediaWiki, Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wikidata, Wikiversity, Commons Abu Dhabi Ports Company, ACS, AIA New Zealand, Consona, Corporate Express, CS Energy, and Digiweb.
Top Industries
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Comms Service Provider45%
Manufacturing Company12%
Financial Services Firm12%
Insurance Company9%
REVIEWERS
Financial Services Firm12%
Retailer10%
Energy/Utilities Company9%
University8%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Comms Service Provider13%
Financial Services Firm11%
Healthcare Company9%
Manufacturing Company6%
Company Size
REVIEWERS
Small Business57%
Midsize Enterprise14%
Large Enterprise29%
REVIEWERS
Small Business25%
Midsize Enterprise29%
Large Enterprise46%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Small Business19%
Midsize Enterprise30%
Large Enterprise51%
Find out what your peers are saying about KVM vs. VMware vSphere and other solutions. Updated: January 2019.
317,440 professionals have used our research since 2012.
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