Getting Xen Ready to

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-08-17 Print this article Print

Ship"> Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 will not ship without Xen, and the company will delay its release if that technology is not yet ready, Stevens said. "I still recommend VMware. Right now, VMware is rock-solid, its robust and it doesnt matter what the application is. I am not going to go out in a cavalier way and try and displace VMware with something that is not ready," he said.
To read eWEEK Labs review of VMware Server 1.0., Click here.
IBM, based in Armonk, N.Y., agrees with Novell that Xen is technologically ready, but says it is going to exercise caution about its use at this early stage. Kevin Leahy, the director for virtualization at IBM, which has been contributing to and helping with the development of Xen, said the technology is ready, but the question is whether it is proven. "So thats what you come down to. Theres lots of ready technology, but what surrounds technology is practice and skills and services and capability and support. Those are the things that make it enterprise-ready as opposed to technology-ready," he said. The distinction lies in whether practitioners and service providers have learned how to use and deploy the technology, whether there is support available and if there are proof-points that it could scale to whatever the requirements are, Leahy said. "If we thought it wasnt ready at all, we would not have said we are going to provide support for SLES 10. But we are also going to be cautious in how we recommend people use it. The technology is ready. Now we need to start doing some real projects to help people do those kinds of things and establish the necessary discipline, practice, procedures and processes," he said. If an enterprise wanted to deploy Xen to 10,000 users tomorrow for a mission-critical application, "I dont think it would be technology issue at all, but there would be huge issues about whether we could say we have the experience and knowledge and skills to do that. I wouldnt recommend that, as we do not yet have the experience to do that," Leahy said. Will the proliferation of virtualization options cause market confusion? Click here to learn more. Other providers of virtualization solutions, like Mike Grandinetti, the chief marketing officer at Virtual Iron Software, based in Lowell, Mass., told eWEEK that Xen will never be enterprise-ready on its own, as it is the value that each vendor adds that makes the difference between its being enterprise-ready or unstable. "Initially, Novell and Red Hat thought that they could just take finished code from the Xen open-source project and wrap it into their Linux offerings. They never intended to invest any significant development effort [in working] on the virtualization services layer or the virtual infrastructure management layer." he said. Those vendors now understand how badly they had underestimated what the Xen project was and was not, he said. "It was a project, not a product. Theres a big difference," he said. To read about how Virtual Iron and XenSource are nibbling at VMwares market share, click here. Novell deserves some credit, as they took the initiative, invested time in the project and came to market first with a solution that includes Xen. But current user feedback would suggest that they took a snapshot of the project too early, when it was not quite ready for use, Grandinetti said. "And Red Hat gets no credit at all. All theyve done is complain and waffle back and forth on the readiness of Xen. Our approach has been different. We set out from the beginning to build an enterprise-ready virtualization solution on top of Xen, and we brought a core competency in architecture and software development to the task," Grandinetti said. Virtual Iron worked closely with the Xen community and companies like Advanced Micro Devices, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Intel, to build its own virtualization services and management layer on top of the Xen hypervisor, he said. "Then we tested it thoroughly to make sure it was enterprise-ready. This was a tremendous development effort, and its what really makes the difference between a Xen-based virtualization solution thats enterprise-ready and those that are not," he said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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