VMware's ESX hypervisor and its vCenter control suite are thought to be operating in more than 80 percent of all enterprise IT systems. And some IT people believe that number is too conservative.
Microsoft's Hyper-V, still getting its bearings in the market, is growing in use but its market share is still mired in the single digits. That leaves 10 to 15 percent of all the rest deploying other virtual systems middleware, mainly the open-source XenServer and KVM hypervisors that come bundled in most Linux distributions.
Front-line open-source data center middleware packages like XenServer (not Citrix's premium Xen-based hypervisor) and KVM have considerable benefits: zero licensing fees, workload-tested stability and a dedicated community of developers.
But the main problem always has been with hypervisor management: There hasn't been a go-to toolbox for open-source hypervisors. Most shops are forced to build their own controls.
What if you can't roll your own? That's where relative newcomer Convirture believes it is plugging a major hole. It specializes in managing open-source Xen, KVM virtualization and private cloud deployments.
The company on July 29 released Version 2.0 of ConVirt Enterprise to address this gap in open-source virtualization platforms. It is attempting to compete on the level of VMware vCenter.
A freely downloadable, open-source version of ConVirt has been available since just after the company launched in 2006. It has been downloaded more than 30,000 times and is broadly deployed and well-tested in a number of data centers, according to the company. ConVirt1.x, in fact, is bundled in most major Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, Open SUSE and Debian.
"We solve the same problem for the Linux data center that VMware/vSphere solves for the ESX deployments in the Windows part of the data center," CEO Arsalan Farooq told eWEEK.
"Virtualization is now a part of the operating system. Microsoft is certainly playing it that way, and with Linux this has been the case for a while. KVM is part of the Linux kernel, so every distro known to man carries it; Xen is also packaged with quite a few distros, so it's impossible to not recognize that you have a triple-A grade hypervisor as part of the operating system."
What's new in Version 2.0
ConVirt 2.0 Enterprise extends the ConVirt Open Source offering with advanced automation and scalability features for running large-scale or mission-critical virtualized environments, Farooq said.
Other new or augmented features in v2.0 include server pool-based management, templates-based provisioning, monitoring and configuration management, comprehensive virtual machine administration, and highly scalable, three-tier, standards-based architecture.
That's not all. ConVirt 2.0 has a lot of storage-related features, including automated backup and recovery functions, private cloud management, storage and network automation, and a separate enterprise integration suite of capabilities, including an open repository, command line interface and programmatic APIs.
"I think they [Convirture] are representative of a number of companies, many centered on open-source software, that are providing alternatives to traditional, proprietary virtualization and cloud computing technology," The 451 Group analyst Jay Lyman told eWEEK.
"There are some customers that prefer the 'one throat to choke,' but we are finding there are equal or greater numbers of users and customers that want alternatives and multiple technology providers, and this stands to benefit companies such as Convirture."