Why your virtualization should be open-source

Scalable, flexible and available on-demand, virtualization allows access to computing power, applications and data when needed. Opting for open-source technology to power the machines adds icing on the cake.

Open-source products are highly customizable, and aren’t locked in to specific providers. Developers can freely make additions, modifications and alterations to the structure or the code in an open-source setup. The merging of these two technologies has given birth to the open-source virtualization phenomenon, which has key benefits over branded, locked-in solutions. According to a recent study, consumers have saved in the region of $60 billion per year by going open source.

Most open-source virtualization titles are free. Installation and modifications are done either by a consultant or a dedicated programming resource. Many open-source solutions are extremely easy to install, while others require some technical expertise for proper deployment. File formats are compatible with branded software solutions.

For businesses looking to go open source with virtualization, there are a wide variety of provider options:

Virtualizing at the operating system level, the OpenVZ architecture is based on Linux Kernel and Linux operating system. Relatively inexpensive and surprisingly flexible, OpenVZ allows for the addition of resources in real time without requiring a reboot.

KVM provides multiple Windows and Linux OS environments virtually, and is a kernel-based Virtual Machine solution for x86 architecture. Each virtual machine is allocated its own virtualized hardware resources.

The Xen Project is hardware-assisted virtualization for customized or standard open-source software. The Linux Kernel provides drivers for physical devices, and they work uniformly across all virtual machines.

Lguest runs different copies of the same kernel simultaneously. Each virtual machine runs independently without interference, utilizing the same main kernel.

VirtualBox can be used on a large number of open-source software options, as well as on servers and provides full virtualization features. It comes in open source and closed source versions.

The benefits provided by open source are many: free code (in most cases), negligible expenses, flexibility, and increased customization options. There are, however, setbacks associated with the technology:

Branded open-source solutions, despite their lower cost when compared with proprietary products, come bundled with funded technical support. The yearly licensing costs are drawing level with big name software.

Finding the right support staff is another challenge. While most techies and IT developers are familiar with mainstream, “boxed” software solutions, it takes a different skill set to delve right into the kernel. When making a switch, a business needs to look closely at the HR factor associated with the move.

Regardless of which open-source virtualization provider you utilize, make sure it can scale well with the rest of your architecture.

Dell Inc.
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