I was doing some research recently on the various platforms available for hosting virtual machines. I found this great comparison matrix at Wikipedia.
There are now a ton of platforms available for just about every OS out there. Some are certainly friendlier than others, but this is a great place to narrow things down to a short list.
Combining VM capabilies, the availability of LiveCDs and the low cost of memory and hard disk space these days, there is little reason that just about anyone could not easily and cheaply make their own very functional virtual lab for research, training and/or development. Security teams should rush to embrace this technology, as they could really use VM labs for experimentation, application analysis, tool evaluation, forensics and ongoing training.
VM has come a long way, and with solutions starting at FREE, they make enconomical sense for a ton of situations ranging from disaster recovery to prototyping. Maybe there will even be a new line of consulting services on the horizon where experts at virtualization will make small fortunes helping organizations port their complex apps and environments over to VM platforms for reduction of hardware footprints and ease of management.
The bottom line is this – if you haven’t played with VMs in a while, now might be a good time to look at them again. Things in this space are maturing nicely….