Serving Up Virtual Servers

SWsoft's Virtuozzo offers e-mail, firewall, domain name and other services.

More and more software makers are developing technology that gives customers mainframelike functionality across a variety of platforms.

The latest offering comes from SWsoft Inc., of San Francisco, which last week released Virtuozzo 2.0, an upgrade of its software that allows hundreds of virtual environments—or instances of the Linux operating system—to run on a single Intel Corp.-based server.

The software is currently compatible only with Linux and FreeBSD systems, but it will be expanded to include Solaris in the first half of this year and Windows later in the year, said SWsoft CEO Serguei Beloussov.

The SWsoft news follows similar recent moves by Sun Microsystems Inc. and VMware Inc. Sun plans to add new "service container" technology to the virtualization features of Solaris 9, Beta 2, which is expected later this quarter. Final code is expected next quarter.

VMware recently announced that its enterprise server software solution, ESX Server, is fully optimized to run on some Intel-based IBM eServer xSeries systems, including the x350 and x370. VMwares server software enables businesses to dynamically partition their physical servers into multiple secure virtual computers. Each virtual computer is configured with its own operating system, applications and network identity, said officials at VMware, in Palo Alto, Calif.

SWsofts Virtuozzo 2.0 provides users with e-mail, firewall, domain name and other services.

It is also the technology that powers SWsofts HSPcomplete, a full life-cycle hosting automation solution that gives Web hosting companies a business director, provider tools, end-user tools and reseller tools that allow them to develop a multitier VAR channel.

HSPcomplete 2.0 is set for release in March, Beloussov said.

Virtuozzo 2.0 includes new features such as multitenancy, where hundreds of customers can share a single server, even though to them it appears as if they have their own dedicated environment.

It also virtualizes CPU resources and appears to customers as a stand-alone, dedicated server; offers resource management, which allows system administrators to control customer resource levels and offer service-level agreements; and clustering, which lets customers move between servers without affecting the quality of the network, Beloussov said.

SWsoft has nine customers using the 1.0 version of its product, and all will be upgrading to 2.0, Beloussov said.

One of these is Hostica, a Web hosting company in Redondo Beach, Calif. Hostica has upgraded to 2.0 internally and is training its technicians on the technology before rolling it out, said Chief Technology Officer Gregor Loock.

"The greatest attraction of Version 2.0 is that it appears far more like a real dedicated server when compared to 1.0. When you look at the box, you have no idea you are not on a dedicated server, and I can now give my customers the illusion that they have a dedicated server without having to pay huge hardware costs," Loock said.

Hostica hosts about 15,000 domains, which translates into about 8,000 customers.

Luke Lee, a director at 1-Net, the largest broadband provider in Singapore, agrees. Lees company has also upgraded to Virtuozzo 2.0 and uses the virtualization, resource management and clustering features to offer customers a full suite of hosting services—from shared Web hosting for small and medium-size businesses to cluster configurations for large enterprises.

"1-Net saw enormous potential for a hosting service that would not require customers to actually own hardware and yet allow them to have access to dedicated hardware and other resources that are virtually their own. The Virtuozzo technology is the backbone of our Web hosting business and has saved us time, money and resources with customer maintenance and provisioning," Lee said.