Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Virtual Iron Freebie and Virtualization

I love virtualization technology.

As servers have become more powerful, there is usually more processing capacity than what is required.

By using virtualized servers, one can consolidate servers onto a single physical host, making better use of its resources.

VMWare has been the major player for years, however Microsoft are joining the band wagon with a Windows only solution (of course) and now the Xen opensource VM on Linux is gaining some acceptance, especially by Novell and Red Hat.

A new startup, Virtual Iron Software, rolled out a Xen-based server virtualization platform, Virtual Iron 3.0, in October 2006.

Now it has just rolled out version 3.1 with support for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.

Not sure if anyone has tried running Oracle on it but I think I'll give it a crack.

Anyway, here is the news article about Virtual Iron from Redmond Developer News:

Virtual Freebie
Virtual Iron Software Inc. released version 3.1 of its enterprise-class virtualization platform. The Lowell, Mass.-based startup rolled out its Xen-based server virtualization platform, Virtual Iron 3.0, in October. That release supported Novell SuSE and Red Hat Linux. The 3.1 version adds support for Windows XP and 2003. It comes with a suite of management tools, including LiveMigration, which lets users move running VMs between physical servers; LiveCapacity, which supports dynamic reallocation of resources to VMs; LiveRecovery, which provides automated failover; and LiveMaintenance, which lets physical machines be taken offline without disturbing the VMs running on them.

Virtual Iron version 3.1 is priced at $499 per socket. That's about 20 percent of the cost of a comparable offering from VMware. But that's not all. The Virtual Iron product can be downloaded and licensed free when run on a single physical server with up to four sockets. Microsoft and VMware have made similar offers, but both Virtual Server and VMware Server must run on top of a host operating system. Virtual Iron's freebie comes with a hypervisor that runs on bare metal.

Virtual Iron's new pricing scheme brings its products within striking distance of XenSource's XenEnterprise product, which starts at $750 for a two-way server license. Both XenSource and Virtual Iron use the open source Xen hypervisor for server virtualization.

For its part, Palo Alto, Calif.-based XenSource is following the recent release of its XenEnterprise with two new products: XenServer, for Windows standard server environments, and XenExpress, a free offering that enables single virtual machine test environments.

The company bills XenEnterprise as the market's first enterprise-grade, commercially packaged virtualization solution based on the open source Xen hypervisor, which supports both Windows and Linux.

Both Virtual Iron and XenSource are competing with a market monster in VMware. The EMC Corp. subsidiary pioneered virtualization for x86, and it was the only game in town for ages.

"VMware definitely has that first-mover advantage," says IDC analyst John Humphreys. "... So it's going to take a lot to get customers to think about switching. Virtual Iron's pricing is a great first step."

Why is the virtualization market so hot right now? "I don't know that the timing is particularly significant," says Gordon Haff, principal IT advisor at Illuminata Inc., a Nashua, N.H.-based research firm. "But the fact is, users really like this technology. VMware has been growing by leaps and bounds, and [it's] making a lot of money for EMC. The question that remains to be answered is, 'Will the competition's products work as well?'"
John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Palo Alto, Calif.