KVM vs. VMware vSphere

As of March 2019, KVM is ranked 3rd in Server Virtualization Software with 5 reviews vs VMware vSphere which is ranked 1st in Server Virtualization Software with 90 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 Hyper-V, VMware vSphere 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.
59,528 views|42,820 comparisons
VMware vSphere Logo
105,660 views|45,823 comparisons
Most Helpful Review
Find out what your peers are saying about KVM vs. VMware vSphere and other solutions. Updated: March 2019.
323,945 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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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.We are able to patch our hosts during production hours with the ability to keep services running.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.

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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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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.Get the HTML5 client to 100% parity to replace the Flash client.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.

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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 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.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.

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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
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
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
Ranking
Views
59,528
Comparisons
42,820
Reviews
5
Followers
661
Avg. Rating
8.8
Views
105,660
Comparisons
45,823
Reviews
90
Followers
1,451
Avg. Rating
8.8
Top Comparisons
Compared 22% of the time.
Compared 22% of the time.
Compared 21% of the time.
Compared 28% of the time.
Compared 17% of the time.
Compared 11% 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 Provider48%
Financial Services Firm11%
Insurance Company10%
Manufacturing Company6%
REVIEWERS
Financial Services Firm12%
Retailer10%
Energy/Utilities Company10%
Manufacturing Company8%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Comms Service Provider13%
Financial Services Firm13%
Healthcare Company9%
Insurance Company6%
Company Size
REVIEWERS
Small Business57%
Midsize Enterprise14%
Large Enterprise29%
REVIEWERS
Small Business26%
Midsize Enterprise29%
Large Enterprise46%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Small Business19%
Midsize Enterprise32%
Large Enterprise50%
Find out what your peers are saying about KVM vs. VMware vSphere and other solutions. Updated: March 2019.
323,945 professionals have used our research since 2012.
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