Virtualization Platforms — 06 April 2011
Container vs. Hypervisor: The Key Question in Web Server Virtualization

Hyper-V VPS vs. Virtuozzo VPS If you’ve made the decision to go with virtual server hosting, you’re now faced with a second very important decision: do you utilize a container arrangement, such as Parallel’s Virtuozzo VPS, or a hypervisor solution such as Hyper-V VPS from Microsoft?

The choice depends largely upon the degree of performance and control that your applications require.

Container-based virtualization relies on a host operating system which runs a number of secondary guest operating systems. The guest systems are run in “containers” and are fully subsidiary to the host system. There are many choices of host software; Virtuozzo VPS is a leading example, but all have similar pros and cons.

  1. Container-based VPS operation is similar to shared web hosting in that the hosting company will typically run many containers on a single large hardware platform, with resources shared among the guest operating systems. Minimum resources can be guaranteed but these are generally at a modest level.
  2. The hosting company will usually offer a limited number of guest operating system types, sometimes only one, in order to keep their environment manageable.
  3. Maintenance is normally done by the hosting company. This means that you are not required to do patches and updates to your guest system, but it also means that you have less control and possibly more restricted access.

Hypervisor-based virtualization is more egalitarian in nature. A supervisory operating system, called a hypervisor, runs at the highest operational level and controls a number of guest operating systems that run independently, in parallel with each other. A typical hypervisor is Microsoft’s Hyper-V VPS although there are several choices on the market. Again, there are advantages as well as limitations.

  1. Hypervisor-based VPS operation typically features many fewer guest systems than container-based solutions, and all of the guest systems run as peers.
  2. Guaranteed resources are more readily available at higher levels in the hypervisor arrangement, making it more suitable for resource-intensive applications.
  3. Customers generally have full access to guest systems, giving them complete control. However, this also means that customers are completely responsible for patches and maintenance; the hosting company provides the environment while the customer does the rest.
  4. The customer installs the guest system, leaving the choice wide-open and completely up to the customer.

Virtual server hosting customers requiring full control, specialized operating systems, or significant resources, are likely to choose hypervisor-based services. Customers who have less demanding needs and don’t wish to worry about maintenance will generally prefer container-based hosting arrangements.

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