KVM vs. vSphere

KVM is ranked 5th in Server Virtualization Software with 2 reviews vs vSphere which is ranked 1st in Server Virtualization Software with 81 reviews. The top reviewer of KVM writes "A very reliable solution which can be used for x86 architecture virtualization with reasonable overhead". The top reviewer of vSphere writes "Putting some VMware ESX storage tips together". KVM is most compared with vSphere, Hyper-V and XenServer. vSphere is most compared with KVM, VMware Workstation and Proxmox VE. See our KVM vs. vSphere report.
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Quotes From Members Comparing KVM vs. vSphere

We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use. Here are some excerpts of what they said:
Pros
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 scalability of the solution is good. You can scale up to maximum levels.The DRS feature of this solution is a very valuable feature.We have seen a tremendous performance boost. From when we started this VMware engagement in 2016 until now, we have seen around a 70 percent performance boost. This is a good number.The built-in encryption of vSphere really helps us to secure our customers, especially customers in the medical field who need to be HIPAA compliant. Being able to encrypt the VM itself helps out a ton.You see more responsiveness, especially now with having the HTML5 client. It feels like a much snappier product.Having a virtualized infrastructure and being able to bring up Windows, Linux, and VMware within a virtualized environment brings more technology into the classroom. Without it, we couldn't do what we do.It provides a new environment in an expedient manner.It helps us with TCO.

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Cons
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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In addition, I think they should come up with a backup feature which is more product enrichment-based. It should be a full-fledged backup solution. It just is not there right now.From my point of view, my advice is to design the solution properly the first time.There is still room for improvement with the HTML5 Web Client. They are working on it, as I can see on their blog. However, there is still room for improvement in the newer features that they can push into it.The biggest issue with stability is the SSO. That is still an issue as far as integrating it with Active Directory, and any large scale of it.The biggest thing to improve is to have more self-service in the portals. I would like to receive more help through the web interface.It is expensive.It could improve the hyper-conversions.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.

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Pricing and Cost Advice
​It is free and can be run from your laptop, if needed, unlike VMware.​

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The pricing is justified. It may be a bit high, but the features are worth it.The pricing is competitive.In the past six months, we have saved around 110TBs of storage, which is almost equivalent to $200,000 USD. That is a huge savings.vSphere is an expensive solution.VSphere is an expensive solution.In today's market, agility is the new currency. Without virtualization, and vSphere in particular, we wouldn't have the level of agility in the business that we have today.vSphere has improved our organization by allowing us to deliver rock solid stability to our clients in a cost competitive fashion.The price is high, but you get back a lot.

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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
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10.0
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95,901
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46,507
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8.8
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1
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5.0
Top Comparisons
Compared 32% of the time.
Compared 22% of the time.
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Compared 22% of the time.
Compared 16% of the time.
Compared 15% of the time.
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Compared 25% of the time.
Also Known As
vSphere 6, vSOM, vCenter Server, VMware ESXi
Website/Video
KVM
VMware
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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.
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Top Industries
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Comms Service Provider
26%
Financial Services Firm
12%
Manufacturing Company
6%
Government
6%
REVIEWERS
Financial Services Firm
12%
Retailer
10%
Energy/Utilities Company
9%
University
8%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Comms Service Provider
10%
Financial Services Firm
10%
Government
7%
University
6%
No Data Available
Company Size
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Small Business
22%
Midsize Enterprise
29%
Large Enterprise
49%
REVIEWERS
Small Business
24%
Midsize Enterprise
30%
Large Enterprise
46%
VISITORS READING REVIEWS
Small Business
22%
Midsize Enterprise
34%
Large Enterprise
44%
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