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Virtualization Platform Hardware Compatibility Lists

Jeff Victor recently wrote an interesting post on his Blog site taking a quick look at the different hardware compatibility lists (HCLs) for three virtualization platforms.  And I completely understand Jeff's point that he is trying to make. Indeed, the underlying hardware can play a major role in an organization's decision making process when trying to determine which virtualization platform they should go with.  Early on, this was a major battle cry for companies like Connectix and Microsoft when trying to compare their products with VMware's ESX Server.  Even today, when people try to compare Microsoft's virtualization or even VMware's Server product against VMware ESX Server, the HCL discussion is brought up.  Although the list is certainly growing as companies continue to make sure that their hardware is compatible with the best selling virtualization platform currently on the market. 

As a flashback for me, I remember back in the day when I first started using VMware ESX Server, before it went to a 1.0 product, I was using Compaq DL380 G2s in my data center and in order for us to get support, I had to send VMware a server so they could write drivers for it.  We've certainly come a long way since then... although I am still thankful that VMware actually offered to do that for us back then.  Anyway, I digress. 

Jeff writes:

Did you know that Solaris Containers has the largest HCL of any server virtualization solution?

Here are three examples:

  1. Solaris 10 HCL: 790 x86/x64 systems + 75 SPARC systems = 865 total systems (March 28, 2007)
  2. VMware: 305 x86/x64 systems (March 21, 2007)
  3. Xen publishes specific component requirements (e.g. "1.5GHz single CPU minimum") instead of an HCL

Note that the Solaris Containers functionality is available on all Solaris 10 systems, and is exactly the same on all hardware architectures.

Is that metric relevant? Many factors should affect your virtualization choice. One of them is hardware choice: "does my choice of server virtualization technology limit my choice of hardware platform?"

The data points above show sufficient choice in commodity hardware for most people, but Containers maximizes your choice, and only Containers is supported on multiple hardware architectures.

You can read this and other posts by Jeff on his blog site, here

Published Friday, March 30, 2007 5:48 AM by David Marshall
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