IBM to Support Xen in x86 Servers, Blades

Big Blue will extend that support throughout other hardware platforms later.

IBM will use the latest release of Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 to bring the Xen open-source virtualization technology to its x86 servers.

The Armonk, N.Y., company announced July 17 that it initially will support Xen on its server and blade platforms that run on Intel and Advanced Micro Devices processors, and that its middleware also will support the virtualization technology.

Later, IBM will add SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 and Xen support to its other server platforms.

"Customers are very, very rapidly adopting virtualization, particularly on the x86 platform, which hasnt had it until [relatively] recently," said Kevin Leahy, director of marketing for IBMs virtualization solutions. "VMware is out there, and now customers want choice."

Virtualization—the ability to run multiple workloads on a single physical server—was developed by IBM for its mainframe systems but didnt become popular for x86 systems until VMware rolled out its first hypervisor about five years ago. Since then, adoption has increase rapidly, and analyst firm IDC, of Framingham, Mass., sees a $15 billion virtualization market by 2009.

The success also has spawned a number of companies to jump into the virtualization space, from heavyweights such as Microsoft to smaller companies like SWsoft and Virtual Iron. Xen was created through an open-source project to offer a free hypervisor that mirrors what VMwares technology does. Xen 3.0 was released last year, and companies like XenSource have begun rolling out products based on the technology.

Both Novell and Red Hat said they will bake the technology into their Linux distributions, and Novell rolled that out July 17 with the latest SUSE Linux distribution. In addition, many OEMs said they expect to offer Xen support in their platforms. For example, Sun Microsystems officials say they plan to support Xen in Solaris 10 by mid-2007.

Leahy said the combination of Xen support in both the hardware platform and middleware gives users not only access to the technology but a single point of management and service as well.

"Just like with early Linux, the key is giving customers access and support, plus management," he said.

Xen also seems to be following the same path as Linux in adoption, Leahy said. Like with the operating system, Xen is getting good traction in the financial services sector, which has a history of being an early adopter of new technology.


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