Best virtualization host software on Mac (from an IT professional's perspective)?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by lpolarityl, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. lpolarityl macrumors 6502

    lpolarityl

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    #1
    I know I could have searched the answer to this question, but I'm hoping to find a user experience from users who had/have a similar use case that I have. I know I'm not the only system admin/analyst/engineer who has moved on to a Mac from Windows, so hopefully someone can help me out!

    I have a 2017 MacBook Pro 15 (16GB/512GB variant). I normally use my desktop (4C/8T i7, 16GB RAM) for virtual machine work but this time around I'll be doing it all on the MBP. I normally run three (some cases four) virtual machines at once. One is a domain controller that runs Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Windows Update Services (WSUS). The other 2-3 VMs are clients; Windows 7/10 and/or CentOS/Red Hat.

    The reason I run all these VMs is to test my PowerShell scripts and Bash scripts on a Windows Domain, Active Directory ran environment. On the linux side I test things like ADCLI and Centrify authentication, misc. cron and Python scripts. On the Windows side I use PowerShell to configure my MDT structure and then I create and deploy customized images to the Windows clients (this is I/O intensive, in bursts, as images are deployed and captured). I also use Cygwin and subversion editing tools to work with the Linux clients (the linux clients I use as the subversion repository host and of course to do linux things that client users typically do). I do all this on a 4 Core / 8 Thread i7 on Windows 10 Pro, using Hyper-V. This all runs off a single NVME M2 and things run mostly great (can be a little sluggish when images are deploying and capturing but that is to be expected, that process dominates the I/O bandwidth).

    Now that my needs are explained, what is the best virtualization host software on Mac? Virtual Box, albeit free, is just... its not very good. I know its good for a couple VMs and for most situations, but I need host software that runs smooth and properly utilizes the I/O capability of the NVME M.2 drive on the MBP. Basically, I need it to run as smooth as possible, just like my Hyper-V hosting software does (think VMWare Tools and how much better that makes VMs run, thats what I'm going for).

    Between VMWare and Parallels, what is the best VM host software for my needs?

    If I can't get things to run as smoothly as I'm used to with Hyper-V, I may have to give the Surface Book 2 or XPS 15 a try. Luckily I'm doing this on a personal owned laptop, not a company provided one so I other options available to me. I'd rather stay with Mac because Macbook's are awesome, but having access to Hyper-V (free of charge) thanks to Windows 10 Pro is hard to ignore. Hyper-V is really good.
     
  2. belvdr macrumors 603

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    No longer logging into MR
    #2
    Agree with VirtualBox - don't use it. I have no issues with Parallels or VMware, but I believe Parallels is pushing for a subscription based licensing model. That's the only downside to that software.

    If you plan on deploying VMware deployed for virtualization in the data center, integration with VMware can be a bonus. In short, I don't think you can go wrong with either product.
     
  3. chrfr macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    #3
    It seems to me that VMWare Fusion Pro is your only real option. I think you'll find your MBP to be working pretty hard trying to run that many VMs, however.
     
  4. MacDawg macrumors Core

    MacDawg

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  5. lpolarityl thread starter macrumors 6502

    lpolarityl

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    Dec 1, 2009
  6. b0fh666 macrumors 6502a

    b0fh666

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    #6
    +1 here
     
  7. SaSaSushi macrumors 601

    SaSaSushi

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2007
    Location:
    Takamatsu, Japan
    #7
    I recommend Parallels for the best performance. It also tends to beat VMWare Pro in the overall feature set.

    For example, it even officially supports the use of nested Hyper-V VMs inside a Windows VM.

    I run both Windows 10 and Linux VMs in Parallels 13 Pro and love it.
     
  8. Mikael H macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2014
    #8
    Your setup looks a lot like the lab I bought my current maxed out late 2013 MBP to handle.
    I run VMware Fusion Pro on it since we run VMware in our server room. This even gives me some rudimentary control of VMs in that environment without ever opening the web console.

    Re @SaSaSushi ’s comment on nested VMs, I practiced aspects of the vSphere 6.5 deployment right on this laptop, in Fusion, so that’s not a differentiating factor.
     
  9. lpolarityl, Feb 4, 2018
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018

    lpolarityl thread starter macrumors 6502

    lpolarityl

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    #9
    I have tried Virtual Box, VMWare Fusion and Parallels and Parallels has performed the best thus far. I had no issues with internal networking with Parallels like I had with VMWare Fusion and Virtual Box. I know those issues could be remedied with some configuration changes and troubleshooting, but I was impatient. Parallels just, works, very much like how Hyper-V "just works". I've never used Parallels before so it was a welcome surprise.

    Thank you for the suggestions everyone, much appreciated.
     
  10. Geeky Chimp macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    #10
    +1 for Parallels. With Parallels you can also do automatic Headless start on boot which I have found useful. I was a big fan of Vmware but Fusion isn’t great, and ESXi on a Mac is hopeless.
     
  11. lpolarityl thread starter macrumors 6502

    lpolarityl

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    #11
    Just chiming back in with another update. I ended up purchasing Parallels Pro and it has been awesome. If anyone stumbles upon this thread looking for recommendations for a similar need... here is another vote for Parallels.
     

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10 January 29, 2018