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benchmarks; Xen vs OpenVZ

There is a somewhat interesting article at the Infoworld blog, discussing the VMware vs. Xen and Xen vs. VMware benchmarks. It appears VMware did a not-quite-good job comparing their ESX to Xen, so Xen came back and presented another comparison, where it is either on par or a bit better than ESX.

From my experience working as Virtuozzo QA team leader (a few years ago) doing all sorts of performance and stress tests for Virtuozzo kernel, I know that there are very many factors influencing the results. Consider this: if you happen to run your test while cron is running daily jobs like slocate's update, log rotation routines etc., your performance could be 10 to 50 per cent slower. This was a very simple and obvious example -- just disable cron daemon before you do your testing. A trickier example is when networking performance increase by 10 to 15% if you bound a NIC interrupt to a single CPU on an two or four-way SMP box.

So, my suggestion is to take those benchmarks and comparisons with a grain of salt. Better yet, do your own comparison using your hardware and your workloads -- and make sure you understand all the results. So if something is slow -- find out why. If something is faster than it should be -- find out why, find out what you did wrong. Perhaps this part -- results analysis -- is the most complex part in the performance testing field.

Having said that, I'd like to point out a Xen vs. OpenVZ comparison, done by a German student Björn Gross-Hohnacker who I met at last year's LinuxWorld Cologne. Björn graciously allowed us to publish his results, so we have translated part of it into English.

Here is the bottom line summary: IPC and disk I/O performance is better (or much better) for OpenVZ than Xen, CPU-intensive tasks are about the same for both, networking is a bit better in OpenVZ. Conclusion: for homogeneous (i. e. Linux-only) environments, OpenVZ is way better -- as it was designed to be.

You are taking this with a grain of salt, aren't you? ;)

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