Virtualization 101 – Major Virtualization Players

The virtualization market is made up of a few dominant, long-standing players and, due to increased adoption, a constant stream of smaller niche companies. VMware is the recognized leader due to both its server virtualization dominance with its commercial product, vSphere, as well as its desktop-level virtualization tools.

Citrix and Microsoft represent two other major virtualization players. Although VMware controls a majority of the market, Citrix and Microsoft continue to gain in market share. Citrix has made strides in application and desktop virtualization using its Xen product. In the case of Microsoft, the company has recognized the importance of virtualization and gradually produced a number of diverse resources, even including virtualization tools in the latest version of Windows 7. In addition, Hyper-V, its non-Linux, hypervisor-based platform, remains one of the core functions of Windows Server 2008.

There are quite a few niche companies in the area of virtualization, and their numbers continue to expand as adoption becomes increasingly widespread. Some of the more well-known are Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and Parallels, as well as Amazon, Google, and Cisco. For Red Hat, open source virtualization represents a model in which the no-cost underlying source code can be used and re-engineered by anyone.

The hypervisor from Sun Microsystems, xVM, incorporates Xen and Solaris technology so it can work seamlessly with other Sun architectures. xVM allows the virtualization of servers based either on Solaris, Windows, or Linux OSs, and this is a key differentiator. Oracle has also entered the virtualization market with its Oracle VM product. This Xen hypervisor-based tool is robust enough for larger enterprises or smaller companies. In the effort to create a useful niche, the company Parallels offers the Virtuozzo Container. This container-based server virtualization technology and software can virtualize Microsoft Windows environments on Macintosh platforms.

Finally, Google and Amazon represent heavy hitters who incorporated virtualization capabilities. Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is the industry standard virtualization platform. It offers users the ability to quickly provision server resources on an as-need basis. Google’s cloud resources, such as Google Apps, App Engine, etc., represent virtualization in the broadest sense of the term. Google covers all the key areas, from access, application, and processing virtualization to storage.


Virtualization continues to have an enormous impact and promises further breakthroughs as adoptions continue and cross-platform performance becomes the norm for both small SMBs and large enterprises. In general, virtualization not only reduces data center expenses, it also offers companies a compelling number of benefits: increased processing agility, better resource management, and streamlined implementation, to name a few. In addition to improving key data center processes, such as Business Continuity (BC) and High Availability (HA), virtualization provides companies both large and small, with disaster recovery options critical to their success.

Today, companies can access a range of virtualization options (desktop, server, storage, etc.) to achieve a high-level of processing functionality, accommodate diverse end-users, and support IT administrators. Research has shown that regardless of the industry, virtualization has permeated every aspect of today’s global economy and continues to fulfill the promise that was first suggested during the early mainframe era.

Excerpted from Global Knowledge: Virtualization 101

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