Our Top Picks

Antsle
Antsle
4.5
  • Convenient hardware + software bundles
  • Free Community Edition
  • Receives regular updates
Best All-in-One Solution
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While Antsle allows users to install the platform on their own server, it stands out for its bundles, which include a physical server that comes preinstalled with their private cloud software. Antsle’s proprietary antMan client runs on edgeLinux, a custom version of Linux built specifically for Antsle’s needs. Users can choose from three different servers, starting at $159 for the Antsle Nano up to tens of thousands of dollars for incredibly powerful hardware with as much as 2 TB of RAM and 2 x 32 cores. With that in mind, Antsle has the best all-in-one hardware and software solutions for server virtualization in 2021.

The most recent major release of the antMan client appears to be version 3.4.0, which was published on April 30, 2021. That update introduced a new update client, which enables customers to install future releases through the user interface rather than implementing them in the command line. Like other updates, it also fixed some bugs and made a handful of adjustments to improve the application’s usability.

antMan Community Edition is totally free to install on your own server, but the website doesn’t provide many details about the difference between the free and paid version. The pricing for hardware + software bundles is dependent on the hardware you’re seeking.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Convenient hardware + software bundles
  • Free Community Edition
  • Receives regular updates

Cons

  • Limited information about the free Community Edition

What Customers Are Saying

Antsle has received mostly positive reviews, with the vast majority of users giving it a full five stars. Customers appreciate how easy the client makes it to get new instances up and running.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • Essential: $29/month
    • Grow: $149/month
    • Scale: $$599/month
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Not provided
  • Support
    Chat
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.5
Citrix Hypervisor
Citrix Hypervisor
4.3
  • Built for enterprises
  • Cloud, on-premises, and hybrid deployments
  • Compatible with Microsoft, Google, and AWS
Best for Enterprise
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Needless to say, virtualization needs tend to be very different for small businesses compared to enterprises and other large organizations. Citrix Hypervisor is an enterprise-centric server virtualization solution that offers incredible security and flexibility. It’s designed to integrate with the Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops platform, helping managers configure virtualized workflows for nearly any use case. Virtual Apps and Desktops is available for cloud, on-premises, or hybrid deployments, and it supports all three of Google, Microsoft, and AWS. Considering the outstanding customer service and overall workflow support available with Citrix, it’s the best virtualization platform for enterprise users in 2021.

Of course, the downside to Citrix’ focus on enterprise clients is that it may not be as practical on a smaller scale. Citrix Hypervisor comes free with Virtual Apps and Desktops subscriptions, so it’s intended to be part of a broader enterprise solution rather than a mere virtualization application. Small businesses may be better off with an open-source alternative like Oracle VM VirtualBox that provides more targeted features at no cost.

New users can contact Citrix through the website to schedule a demo or request a callback. It gives you a one-on-one walkthrough of the Virtual Apps and Desktops platform to demonstrate how it could help optimize your workflow. Unfortunately, Citrix doesn’t offer any information about pricing for Virtual Apps and Desktops.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Built for enterprises
  • Cloud, on-premises, and hybrid deployments
  • Compatible with Microsoft, Google, and AWS

Cons

  • Not ideal for smaller implementations

What Customers Are Saying

The most common complaint we found in Citrix Hypervisor reviews was that the interface is outdated and basic compared to other virtualization solutions. However, users have positive feedback for the platform’s efficiency along with its remote work features, which have been particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Summary

Citrix Hypervisor
Citrix Hypervisor
  • Starting Price
    • Stand-alone: $15/user/month
    • Workspace Premium Plus: $25/user/month
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free trial available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.3
Nerdio
Nerdio
4.4
  • Scalable pricing system
  • Supports both Azure and Windows 365 deployments
  • No ongoing commitments
Best Pricing
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Some server virtualization platforms primarily target small businesses while others cater to enterprises and other large organizations. That can make it difficult to find a suitable solution without overpaying for features or services you don’t need. Nerdio offers flexible subscriptions for both enterprises and managed service providers, with pricing dependent on your operating system as well as the total number of desktops you need to use. It also provides dedicated enterprise solutions for Azure environments with 250 or more users at $4 per named user, per month, or $6 per concurrent user, per month. There are no long-term commitments, and discounts are available for larger organizations as well as educational institutions and nonprofits.

Furthermore, the Nerdio partner program gives users the opportunity to receive real-time personal support along with white labeling, VIP tickets, free certifications, and more. It’s a great option for managed service providers who are interested in moving into an Azure Virtual Desktop practice.

Nerdio subscriptions start at $12 per desktop, per month, for Azure deployments with up to 250 desktops. The standard per-desktop rate decreases to $9 for 250 to 500, $6 for 501 to 1,000, and $3 for 1,001 and above. One quirk of that pricing structure is that you could end up paying more for a smaller number of users — for example, 450 desktops would cost $4,050 per month at $9 each, while 550 desktops would only cost $3,300 at $6 each. Deployments with Windows 365 only are available for $3 per desktop, per month, while complete Azure IT environments cost $12 per desktop, per month, for enterprise clients.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Scalable pricing system
  • Supports both Azure and Windows 365 deployments
  • No ongoing commitments

Cons

  • Pricing tiers lead to lower prices for more desktops in some cases

What Customers Are Saying

Nerdio subscribers have great things to say about the platform’s usability. They also mention that the customer service team is uniquely responsive, offering quick and informative replies to a variety of questions and technical issues.

Summary

  • Starting Price
    • 1-250: $12/desktop/month
    • 250-500: $9/desktop/month
    • 501-1,000: $6/desktop/month
    • 1,001 or greater: $3/desktop/month
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free trial available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    FAQs/Forum
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
    Chat
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.4
Nutanix AOS
Nutanix AOS
4.4
  • Impressive scalability
  • Strong user reviews
  • Built-in security features
Best Scalability
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No matter where your infrastructure is now, it’s impossible to predict what your organization will look like in a few months or years. With that in mind, you want a server virtualization platform that can grow with you without requiring any major changes. Nutanix is a highly scalable option for businesses of all sizes due to its always-on reliability and automatic performance tuning that keeps your processes running smoothly. Several users noted how easy it was to scale its Nutanix deployment in response to rapidly evolving needs, making it an easy choice as the server virtualization software with the best scalability in 2021.

Nutanix AOS server virtualization also comes with some notable security tools, including built-in encryption, replication, and a distributed self-healing feature that avoids any impact on performance. AOS 6.0 was released in mid-2021 and introduced even more features like ADS vGPU support, a disaster recovery dashboard, and near-zero always-on data loss protection.

New users can arrange a test drive of the Nutanix AOS platform on its website by providing their email address. Like most other server virtualization providers, its platform comes as a custom solution depending on the specific needs of your organization, so we can’t provide any information about pricing or subscription tiers.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Impressive scalability
  • Strong user reviews
  • Built-in security features

Cons

  • No free option

What Customers Are Saying

Along with scalability, another feature that stood out to us when reading through Nutanix reviews was the platform’s interface, which condenses a deep toolkit into a simple, user-friendly design.

Summary

Nutanix AOS
Nutanix AOS
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free trial available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    Phone Support
    Chat
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.4
Oracle VM VirtualBox
Oracle VM VirtualBox
4.6
  • Both VirtualBox and the extension pack are free for evaluation or personal or educational use
  • Open-source software
  • Receives regular updates
Best Open-source Software
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Unlike commercial server virtualization platforms, Oracle VM VirtualBox is an open-source application that’s entirely free to use. It has been around for nearly 15 years and is still one of the most popular solutions. While Oracle offers extension pack licenses for enterprises, the extension pack is available as a free add-on for evaluation purposes or personal or educational use. All things considered, it’s the best open-source server virtualization software available in 2021.

Despite being an open-source application, VirtualBox has received relatively consistent updates for more than a decade. Recent updates are largely due to the platform’s acquisition by Oracle, which keeps VirtualBox at the front of the market. With five updates released in 2021 alone, it’s clear that the developers care about providing the best experience possible. Released on July 28, 2021, VirtualBox 6.1.26 fixed a few bugs and ensured that VM states are saved automatically when the host shuts down.

Both the base VirtualBox platform and the extension pack are free for personal, educational, and evaluative use. Enterprises can access the extension pack for a one-time fee of $50 per named workstation user - plus an $11 support and update fee for the first year - or $1,000 per socket, plus a similar $220 fee for the first year.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Both VirtualBox and the extension pack are free for evaluation or personal or educational use
  • Open-source software
  • Receives regular updates

Cons

  • Outdated interface

What Customers Are Saying

While the simple, dated VirtualBox interface has attracted some criticism, users are happy to get such a robust virtualization solution for free. Most customers who moved from a premium provider don’t feel like they lost much functionality by switching to VirtualBox.

Summary

Oracle VM VirtualBox
Oracle VM VirtualBox
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free version available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.6
Proxmox VE
Proxmox VE
4.3
  • Quick and easy setup process
  • Receives regular updates
  • Extensive support resources
Easiest Deployment
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When you’re getting started with a new server virtualization platform, you don’t want to spend any more time than necessary on the initial setup. Proxmox helps users get their virtual machines up and running more quickly with a simple installation process that shouldn’t take you much more than five minutes. Download the ISO image from its website, transfer it to a USB drive, CD, or DVD, and complete the installation wizard. Proxmox also offers detailed guides and other resources to streamline setup.

Proxmox Virtual Environment 7 was released on July 6, 2021, and is based on Debian 11 “Bullseye” as well as Linux kernel 5.11. Version 7 introduced a long list of new features and capabilities like single sign-on (SSO), full integration with Ceph Pacific, and a panel for managing APT repositories. Proxmox Virtual Environment has received multiple updates per year for nearly 10 years, demonstrating the team’s commitment to the platform.

While Proxmox VE is itself open-source software, paid subscriptions are available for users that need enterprise-level security and other advanced features that aren’t included in the free version of the application. Plans start at approximately $105.30 per year and CPU socket for the Community tier and go up to approximately $982.80 per year for Premium, which comes with customer service perks including unlimited support tickets and guaranteed two-hour response times during business hours.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Quick and easy setup process
  • Receives regular updates
  • Extensive support resources

Cons

  • Limited enterprise features

What Customers Are Saying

Proxmox has received some of the most consistently positive reviews of any server virtualization software on the market. Users are particularly happy with the extensive documentation covering almost any question you might have about the platform.

Summary

Proxmox VE
Proxmox VE
  • Starting Price
    • $318.42/yr/CPU socket
    • $469.37/yr/CPU socket
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free version available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.3
Runecast
Runecast
4.7
  • 14-day free trial
  • Robust security features
  • Strong user reviews
Best Free Trial
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With so many options available, you should consider testing out at least a few different platforms before committing to any particular software. Most providers offer free demos for prospective subscribers, but Runecast gives new customers 14 days to implement the application in their own organization. That trial period gives you much more time to see how Runecast fits your needs, making it the server virtualization software with the best free trial in 2021.

Runecast is particularly strong when it comes to cybersecurity. Every deployment includes a deep range of security features including standards compliance audits, proactive security analysis, and real-time ESXi logs. It’s designed to help you oversee your entire on-premises virtualization stack as well as any public cloud resources running in Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS). Runecast is an official partner with AWS, Microsoft, and VMWare.

After finishing the 14-day trial period, you’ll need to pay for a premium plan to continue using Runecast. However, the website also offers an online demo that enables new users to interact with the client through their internet browser. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide much information about its subscription options, so you should contact the provider directly to learn more about the available plans.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 14-day free trial
  • Robust security features
  • Strong user reviews

Cons

  • No free option

What Customers Are Saying

Runecast has nearly universal positive feedback from many users across multiple review sites. Numerous reviewers highlight the platform’s usability as well as the developer’s responsiveness when it comes to updating compatibility issues and adding new features.

Summary

Runecast
Runecast
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    14-Day free trial
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    FAQs/Forum
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
    Chat
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.7
ScaleWay Virtual Instances
ScaleWay Virtual Instances
4.9
  • Receives regular updates
  • Strong user reviews
  • Pricing based on real-time consumption
Best User Review Score
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We only included server virtualization platforms with generally positive user reviews, but ScaleWay still stands out from the alternatives when it comes to customer feedback. With an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars across multiple review sites, ScaleWay has the best user review score of any major server virtualization software in 2021. Customers are satisfied with nearly every element, with reviews mentioning everything from setup and support to pricing and the overall value of the platform.

While browsing through the ScaleWay website, we were happy to find logs of new updates released each month. The September 2021 release, for example, fixed a handful of bugs and made a few other minor changes. Most of these updates aren’t Earth-shattering, but they show that the developers are committed to improving the platform.

Pricing for ScaleWay Virtual Instances is based on real-time consumption, so you’ll never pay for anything you don’t use. Instances are currently available from approximately 0.002925 of a cent per hour for Stardust, which comes with one virtual central processing unit (vCPU) and 1 GB of RAM. ScaleWay offers development instances from approximately 01.17 cents per hour, general-purpose instances from approximately 09.828 cents per hour, enterprise instances from approximately 31.824 cents per hour, and a variety of other options. It also provides some other digital services including object storage, block storage, load balancing, and PostgreSQL and MySQL databases.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Receives regular updates
  • Strong user reviews
  • Pricing based on real-time consumption

Cons

  • Limited user reviews

What Customers Are Saying

ScaleWay users mostly have good things to say about the provider, but we noticed that the platform hasn’t received as many reviews as some alternatives. Some reviewers were also disappointed that advanced customer support is only available for an extra charge, starting at approximately $11.68 per month for the Bronze tier.

Summary

ScaleWay Virtual Instances
ScaleWay Virtual Instances
  • Starting Price
    • €0.01 ex. VAT/hour
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free version available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    FAQs/Forum
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.9
Virtuozzo
Virtuozzo
4.3
  • Flexible support tiers
  • Free trial available
  • Positive user reviews
Best Customer Service
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All Virtuozzo subscriptions come with basic customer service, but users can also add on premium support features for an additional charge if they need extra help with the platform. For example, the Silver tier comes with unlimited incidents, root-cause analysis, a dedicated technical account manager, and a custom service-level agreement (SLA). Gold includes those features plus 24/7 availability and regular infrastructure health checks while Platinum adds an exclusive maintenance pack. Along with positive user feedback, this customizability makes Virtuozzo the server virtualization software with the best customer service in 2021.

Virtuozzo’s hybrid solutions are designed to provide a unique alternative to a variety of standalone services including public cloud infrastructure, storage, management, and virtualization. With that in mind, it’s a much more robust and targeted platform compared to open-source alternatives like VMWare, which focuses more narrowly on virtualization itself. Small-scale users may not need the full range of features that are available with Virtuozzo.

If you’re a new user, you can request a free trial on the Virtuozzo website. As a provider of custom solutions, it offers variable pricing based on the parameters of your specific project. Unlike services like Nerdio and ScaleWay that provide clear, usage-based pricing, Virtuozzo only gives you a quote on a case-by-case basis.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Flexible support tiers
  • Free trial available
  • Positive user reviews

Cons

  • May not be a good fit for small-scale projects

What Customers Are Saying

We found that Virtuozzo’s audience prefers its product due to its easy deployment and relatively low impact on performance. Several users also reported positive interactions with customer service — keep in mind that your experience may depend on the premium support tier you’ve chosen, if any.

Summary

Virtuozzo
Virtuozzo
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free trial available
  • Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.3
VMManager
VMManager
4.4
  • Receives an update every two weeks
  • 24/7 support
  • Intuitive interface
Most Reliable Updates
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Reputable server virtualization providers typically release at least a few updates per year, but VMManager goes further with a brand-new update every two weeks. This release schedule enables it to be more responsive than the competition when it comes to addressing technical issues, adding commonly requested features, and keeping VMManager compatible with the latest versions of operating systems and other applications. It also maintains an active roadmap to give users a preview of future releases. It’s the most reliable server virtualization software in 2021 when it comes to updates and bug fixes.

VMManager’s 2021 updates have added a long list of new functions to the platform, including email templates, self-diagnosis tools, extended network settings, and support for new operating systems like Alma Linux 8, Rocky Linux 8, and Oracle Linux 8 as guest OSs. However, there are currently only two goals on the roadmap for future updates: isolated private networks and access lists for user groups.

While you can start with a free demo, you’ll need to pay for ongoing access to VMManager. Instead of preset subscriptions, it offers custom pricing based on a short questionnaire that asks for basic information like your company name, industry, IT infrastructure size, and your needs for the solution.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Receives an update every two weeks
  • 24/7 support
  • Intuitive interface

Cons

  • Limited user reviews

What Customers Are Saying

While most VMManager reviews are positive, we weren’t able to find as much feedback compared to platforms like VMWare and Red Hat Virtualization. Some customers also mentioned issues with user permissions in multitenancy arrangements.

Summary

VMManager
VMManager
  • Starting Price
    • Custom Quote
  • Free Trial/Demo
    Free trial available
  • Support
    Email/Help Desk
    Knowledge Base
    Phone Support
    24/7 (Live Rep)
    Chat
  • Reporting
    Yes
Ratings
  • User Review Score 4.4

How We Chose the Best Server Virtualization Software

While server virtualization has existed for a long time, it has become more popular in recent years as organizations implement virtual machines for a variety of use cases. Virtualization allows users to run multiple operating systems on the same device, making their hardware much more versatile and unlocking a wide range of opportunities.

There’s no single leader in the virtualization market, so we’ve highlighted 10 of the top providers in 2021 to help you find the platform that makes the most sense for you. We focused on these three criteria to identify the best server virtualization software currently available.

Compatibility

Different server virtualization services are compatible with different operating systems, including both the base operating system of the device and the “guest” operating system of the virtual machine. You’ll need to find a provider that offers compatibility with both ends of your deployment.

VirtualBox, for example, is an open-source option that covers most popular operating systems including Windows, Linux, Mac, and Solaris. It can also be used to run a variety of operating systems in the virtual machine. On the other hand, some solutions focus on specific operating systems to offer the best possible service for those specific use cases.

Ease of Use

IT professionals will likely feel right at home in any major server virtualization platform, but not all of these applications are as accessible for users with limited technical experience. Your virtualization software shouldn’t slow down your workflow or cause any unnecessary impacts on performance.

Design is partly a matter of taste, but we still looked at each platform’s interface and support resources to evaluate its overall usability. We also read through user reviews to get an idea of what implementations are typically like for real customers.

Pricing

Consumers have more options than ever when it comes to server virtualization, so there’s no reason to overpay for something you don’t need. On the other hand, some premium solutions are worth the extra cost for organizations that need specific features or simply more resources.

To help you find the perfect option, we included everything from free applications to premium enterprise solutions and software + hardware bundles. We also compared alternatives at similar price points to identify the best values for each budget and use case.