HP, Parallels Ink Virtualization Deal

The deal allows Hewlett-Packard to sell and support Parallels' container virtualization technology with its Integrity servers.

Hewlett-Packard is bringing container virtualization to its Integrity server line.

On July 2, HP will begin selling and supporting Parallels' Virtuozzo virtualization software within its Integrity line of servers that are built around Intel's Itanium processor and include the company's massive Superdome systems.

While the HP Integrity line is mainly known to support the company's Unix operating system, HP-UX, these servers also support Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and several variations of Linux. The Parallels Virtuozzo containers are designed to work with both Windows and Linux.

In just the past few months, HP has shown a willingness to incorporate a range of virtualization options with its ProLiant line of x86-based servers, including embedded versions of VMware's ESX Server and Citrix's XeServer hypervisor, which are embedded at the factory level. HP's deal with Parallels gives the company a way to offer customers more options with its high-end line of Integrity systems beyond the virtualization capabilities found within the HP-UX operating system.

The deal also gives HP a way to counter the type of container virtualization Sun Microsystems offers with its Solaris operating system that runs on the company's SPARC and UltraSPARC processors. Along with Sun, HP and IBM are fighting for market share within the Unix market, which IDC estimated was worth about $4 billion in revenues during the first quarter of 2008.

For Parallels, formerly SWsoft, the deal with HP is a chance to have its virtualization technology associated with one of the world's largest vendors as it looks to distinguish itself in an increasingly crowded field that includes VMware, Citrix and several others.

What makes Parallels' approach to virtualization different from what VMware does with its hypervisor is the container technology. Unlike a hypervisor, which divides a physical server into different virtual machines, the containers partition the underlying operating system into different environments.

This approach can make it easier for IT departments to create virtual environments within a physical server, since there is only one operating system and one software stack instead of having different operating systems and applications in various virtual machines.

Bryan Goode, director of Business Development for Parallels, said the company had mainly focused on making Virtuozzo work with x86-base hardware. But in 2007 the company decided to create an almost new version of the containers that would work with Intel's Itanium chips.

The result of that development helped Parallels approach HP in January with the technology and its ability to support the types of applications that are used with Integrity, including financial transaction applications and databases.

"From a product point of view, it functions the same way as our x86 version," said Goode. "It [the Itanium version] has the same functionality as our x86 version. The experience is the same, and a container is still a container. I think what makes this unique is it's really the first virtualization offering for people that have Windows or Linux and want to run it on an Integrity platform."

The Parallels Virtuozzo containers will cost $4,500 per two processors, and the Parallels Infrastructure Manager bundle costs $5,000. The Virtuozzo suite does not currently integrate with HP's management software for Integrity.