The KVM vs VMware hypervisor comparison is a classic debate. Most businesses choose to implement hypervisors because of the ability to share resources. There is an excellent variety of hypervisors available on the internet. However, only two are famous ones in which organizations chose to share their resources. These two hypervisors are VMware and Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM).

A hypervisor provides the foundation for your virtualization platform, and there are many choices, from traditional vendors to open-source alternatives. VMware is a popular choice for virtualization and offers the ESXi hypervisor and vSphere virtualization platform. Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) is an open-source option and is part of Linux.

We have done the research and made a comparison between VMware and KVM hypervisors. We made the comparison taking into account the following key points that will help in choosing the right hypervisor for you:

  • Performance
  • Integration
  • Cost
  • Complexity
  • Scalability
  • Maturity
  • Functional support


A hypervisor virtualizes a computing environment where the tenants are provided dedicated physical resources such as processing capability, memory, and storage. Each user can run their operating system within a virtual environment with its resources.

The efficient sharing of resources requires the physical processor to support virtualization called AMD-V for AMD processors and VT-x for Intel processors. A hypervisor needs to effectively isolate each guest such that a guest's operations will not affect the other tenants.

This requirement means that a hypervisor must accurately emulate the physical hardware to prevent guests from accessing it except under carefully controlled circumstances. The method that a hypervisor uses to do this is a key factor in its performance.

Hypervisors often use "para-virtualized" (PV) drivers to emulate physical hardware, which acts as hardware such as storage disks and network cards. These drivers are OS-specific and often specific to a particular hypervisor. PV drivers can improve a hypervisor's performance by order of magnitude.


Hypervisors are mainly divided into two broad categories.

Type 1: 

The bare-metal hypervisor is the type that runs directly on the physical hardware. The OS of all the guests runs on top of the hypervisor.

Type 2:

They are also known as hosted hypervisors; they run with OS that runs on physical hardware. The guest OS runs on top of the hypervisor. KVM is extremely difficult to classify because it has characteristics of both types. Linux user can start their KVM from the graphical user interface. It is faster and more user-friendly.

While EXI is purely a type 1 hypervisor installed on OS, this type is slower than type 2 and difficult to handle.


Hypervisors use different modes and methods to communicate with physical hardware. KVM uses an agent to communicate, which is installed on the hardware of the system. This hypervisor has a Linux-based interface also used by red Hat and other distributors.

A VMware management plan is used to communicate with the hardware. EXI has the advantage of accessing other products using a management plan. It also uses a VMware control stack to increase hardware requirements.


KVM is the clear winner in the cost of these hypervisors. You don't have to make additional expenses to install this hypervisor to integrate your systems. You can have access to an open-source OS.

On the other hand, you are charged a license fee when you want to install VMware. VMware is the first company to launch enterprise-class virtualization software. Being the innovator in the industry, they are the first to introduce this concept and a business end-user hypervisor.


You don't need to translate the binary codes to accommodate the guests through virtualization. The system takes advantage of the extension of the processor. The first release of KVM was such a lightweight virtualization driver with almost 10,000 lines of code (LOC).

You would be enthralled to know that VMware uses over 6 million LOC. This fact is difficult to verify because the codes are not publicly available. The original codes have not been rewritten since the hypervisor's inception, making it one of the most complex codebases when you compare it to KVM.


When it comes to scalability, KVM has the upper hand compared to VMware. This is due to the fact that vSphere has some limitations in the servers it can manage, which is not an issue with KVM. VMware has added a large number of Storage Area Networks (SANs) to support various vendors. This means that VMware has more storage options, but it also complicates the storage support when scaling up.


KVM and ESXi are both highly mature and stable. KVM has been part of the Linux kernel for over a decade, and ESXi has been publicly available since 2006. However, KVM is more widely deployed since it's open-source and is included in many packages, such as Redhat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV). KVM also supports more features than any other hypervisor.

Functional Support

When it comes to technical support, VMware will provide enterprise-level support that can not be matched with other hypervisors. Network and storage support are critical and are probably more important than any other factor besides OS integration. With KVM, you will have to rely on support from the open-source community and your own IT team of professionals.


Of the two hypervisors, KVM vs VMware, the most popular choice for users is KVM. This hypervisor is famous because of its low-cost operating features. This is an open-source solution for people who have just started their business and do not want to invest more in the hypervisor.

Once you have crossed the threshold of being a new or middle-level organization, you need advanced practices to prove your identity. Big organizations have to use trusted services to protect their data and reputation. The more prominent companies always prefer VMware as it is a trusted yet expensive solution for resource sharing.

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