Compare KVM vs. VMware vSphere

KVM is ranked 3rd in Server Virtualization Software with 5 reviews while VMware vSphere which is ranked 1st in Server Virtualization Software with 84 reviews. KVM is rated 8.6, while VMware vSphere is rated 8.6. The top reviewer of KVM writes "I find the density of the product most valuable". On the other hand, the top reviewer of VMware vSphere writes "Makes Resources Available & Services More Reliable". KVM is most compared with Oracle VM VirtualBox, Hyper-V and VMware vSphere, whereas 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.
77,835 views|53,752 comparisons
VMware vSphere Logo
118,063 views|46,975 comparisons
Most Helpful Review
Find out what your peers are saying about KVM vs. VMware vSphere and other solutions. Updated: July 2019.
354,017 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
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.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.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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We are able to create virtual machines and move them from one host to another, controlling the resources.The most valuable feature is its ability to revert to previous snapshots during testing of various guest and application deployments.It helps to automate the data replication and DR (disaster recovery).Using vSphere we have virtualized over one thousand servers and this gave us management, cost and datacenter space advantages.The features in VMware vSphere data recovery are excellent. Sometimes I've deleted an entire server before and was able to recover the deleted VM. I just used some command line tools and I was able to restore the deleted VM.The most valuable features for me are a very easily scalable infrastructure. I can have a couple of hosts to do basic workloads. I can have a lot of hosts to do a lot of workloads. vSAN integrates my storage so I don't need an external storage SAN. I love having everything integrated in the same UI. The new HTML5 interface doesn't require any plugins anymore and it's super-fast.Since we have an internal cloud, suddenly people may require 1000 or 2000 VMS in something. We have options to analyze and make sure we have enough scalability.Production people can quickly reboot the server with ESXi Quick Boot.

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Cons
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.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 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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Generally, the user interface needs to be improved for non-technical people.Two improvements that I would like to see are higher resolution console modes for guests and easier switching between consoles.I feel that the scalability of the solution should be improved.Although vSphere is a nearly perfect product, it does need a little improvement. Datacenter and Cluster structure should be mixed so that the management of clusters would be easier.We want to see improvement from VMware with security. We want minimal downtime. We want automation. We want to deploy more efficiently.An improvement could be allowing a "dark mode" for the interface. I think the HTML5 client is a little bit hard to read. It's all white. It's a little bit bright on the eyes. A lot of us IT guys view in the dark.We previously had a hard time using tech support.I would like more Amazon stuff inside of VMware.

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

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The licensing fees are on a yearly basis.VMware does provide organizations with discounts. The customer service license fee we got discounts on from the supplier in order for us to get the best out of the license fees. That's our experience. We possibly paid less than our partner company. The partner is only local and not global like our firm.The price is high, but you get back a lot.Our ROI is good.There is an average performance boost, especially if you use VM encryption inside the VMware with another product, like McAfee. You will see great improvement in these cases.VMware is costly versus other competitors but is still one of the market leaders and expanding now with partners like AWS.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.

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Answers from the Community
Rhea Rapps
Cesar ReyesUser

KVM can take full advantage of the operating system where it is hosted.

09 July 19
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
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
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
Ulrich VogtVendor

Service Virtualization has nothing to do with KVM and vSphere. KVM and vSphere are tools/environments to virtualize systems/servers, not services.

Service Virtualization is used to virtualize a Web service or a Message-based service. KVM and vSphere are used to virtualize Linux or Windows systems.

So, I assume you got confused by the very similar name of both. If I misunderstood the questions, please let me know. I am happy to help.

BTW, you can run Service Virtualization on virtualized Linux and Windows boxes.

There are many of comparisons of KVM and vSphere on the internet, see, for instance, https://community.spiceworks.com/virtualization/articles/2768-server-virtualization-is-a-free-hypervisor-good-enough-or-should-you-pay

Hope that helps.

21 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
Michael TangReal User

Vmware has more integration with other 3rd party product than KVM. Backup software for instance.

01 May 18
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77,835
Comparisons
53,752
Reviews
5
Average Words per Review
286
Avg. Rating
8.6
Views
118,063
Comparisons
46,975
Reviews
88
Average Words per Review
586
Avg. Rating
8.8
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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
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REVIEWERS
Financial Services Firm12%
Energy/Utilities Company10%
Retailer10%
Manufacturing Company9%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Financial Services Firm13%
Comms Service Provider12%
Manufacturing Company10%
Healthcare Company9%
Company Size
REVIEWERS
Small Business63%
Midsize Enterprise13%
Large Enterprise25%
REVIEWERS
Small Business26%
Midsize Enterprise28%
Large Enterprise46%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Small Business20%
Midsize Enterprise38%
Large Enterprise42%
Find out what your peers are saying about KVM vs. VMware vSphere and other solutions. Updated: July 2019.
354,017 professionals have used our research since 2012.
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