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Choose a Virtualization Vendor for Mac OS X Servers

By John Rizzo

There are three major companies that make virtualization software for Macs: Parallels, VMware, and Oracle. If you plan to run Lion Server in a virtualized environment, you will need to select one of these products to do so. In a nutshell, here are the choices:

  • Parallels Server: Meant for serious virtualization of multiple production servers on one Mac, Parallels Server includes management software for the servers. It comes in several versions, from a $300 Mac mini edition to the $2,000 Parallels Server for Mac.

  • Parallels Desktop: This user-level, or desktop, application costs under $100. You need version 7 or later to run Lion in a virtual machine.

  • VMware Fusion: Another user-level virtualization package, Fusion is very similar to Parallels Desktop and similarly priced. You need version 4 or later to run Lion in a virtual machine.

  • Oracle VirtualBox: This open source product is free for personal use.

You can use the desktop versions for testing servers or for running services that don’t use a lot of system resources. A desktop version won’t let you assign as much of the Mac hardware to a virtual machine Parallels Server.