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January 5, 2015

Virtualization Technology Comparison: Hyper-V, Xen or KVM?

There are quite a few virtualization platforms that may confuse customers who’re shopping for the “best one.” Selecting the right virtualization platform with three possible options — Xen, Hyper-V and KVM — can be a daunting task. Even though solutions like KVM are relative newcomers, there are proponents who argue that it outperforms Xen and Hyper-V in a number of instances. Xen is considered to be a robust and flexible platform that has a very broad ecosystem of management tools. Hyper-V and KVM also have their positive virtues. That’s why the question still remains — which one should you choose?


Xen performs better than KVM in most cases. For instance, independent tests have shown that KVM performance reduces when more workloads are added and it even crashes when forced to support a higher number of guests. This has, however, never been proven as a standard since it vastly depends on the host server that is being used. Xen, on other side, is known to support more workloads running concurrently. Hyper-V performs better in a Windows environment and it can also run in any guest OS supported by the hardware platform.


Hyper-V is not an open source hypervisor: it is a commercial application that is provided by Microsoft. However, both Xen and KVM are open source hypervisors available for free.


In KVM guests share memory blocks and other features that undermine its scalability, isolation and latency. However, Xen doesn’t suffer any of these underlying issues like sharing memory blocks and CPU instructions, so you can rely on it to be flexible in any operating system. KVM does not support uninterrupted live migration — a feature that enables Xen users to obtain routine maintenance with very minimal downtime. Hyper-V being a commercial hypervisor, outperforms the two in some instances especially when running on Windows.


Since management is a very critical factor when choosing a hypervisor, we must consider the system that performs best in terms of manageability. When comparing between Xen and KVM, Xen outperforms KVM in more than one field. It has much broader backup and storage management options compared to KVM. Hyper-V is supported by Windows hardware and software and will run perfectly in the related infrastructure.

Platform support

Xen has reliable virtual network and virtual storage support. Compared to KVM and Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen features enhanced security and high availability. The open source hypervisor is created by an engaged community that consists of the best developers, researchers and virtualization technologists in the world. Xen leads the community in hardware support because of its large customer base and wide support by the well known brands like Intel, Oracle, HP and Citrix. It is expected to be a leader in the hypervisor technology field in the coming -years.


Post by Greg Rockwood - a marketing and PR manager at Softsys Hosting, an established provider of KVM VPS, cloud based Xen VPS and Hyper-V based Windows VPS hosting services.