SWsoft and Parallels Prep Virtualization for Different Markets

SWsoft is after the enterprise, while Parallels targets SMBs with interface and management advances.

SAN FRANCISCO—SWsoft and Parallels are each preparing new releases of their respective virtualization products in time to capture attention from the growing mainstream interest in virtualization.

The two companies, which are jointly owned, were demonstrating the new products at the 2007 VMworld Conference. Each of the new releases targets a different audience—SWsofts is aimed at large, enterprise data centers and Parallels at the SMB (small and midsize business) server space—but both are preparing to tie the technologies together in order to take advantage of the growing interest in virtualization.

The first of these releases is the 4.0 version of SWsofts Virtuozzo product, which the Herndon, Va., company plans to introduce as a public beta sometime later in September. A general release is slated either for later this year or in the first quarter of 2008, according to company executives.

Unlike traditional hypervisor technology used by VMware, which divides a server into several virtual machines on which users can run different applications, Virtuozzo partitions the operating system—either Linux or Microsoft Windows—into virtual environments or containers. The technology is similar to the virtual containers found in Sun Microsystems Solaris operating system.

One of the biggest improvements in the new version of Virtuozzo is the management console along with a redesigned interface that should make the virtual environment easier to manage and control, said Benjamin Rudolph, the director of corporate communication, during a demonstration at the conference.

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"The management console is one of the biggest improvements and the new interface makes it much easier and much more intuitive to manage the entire virtual infrastructure," said Rudolph, adding that SWsofts ultimate goal is to improve the console to the point where it can manage other virtualization products as well.

Another improvement is high availability features that will work with either Windows Server 2003 or Red Hat clustering services. The new version also offers real-time backups for both Linux and Windows platforms.

The first beta of Parallels Server is expected to be released within the next month, Rudolph said. This product is Parallels first offering for the server market—the company has mainly focused on desktop virtualization until now—and is a traditional hardware virtualization product similar to VMwares ESX server.

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Parallels Server offers support for 64-bit operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS X and a number of Linux operating systems. (The product can also support some versions of Suns Solaris OS as a virtual guest.)

The server product will also support Intels virtualization technology as well as its vPro, a chip platform that manages business PCs. There is support for SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) as well.

Eventually, SWsofts Virtuozzo console will be able to manage the Parallels Server, which will allow customers to mix and match different virtualization technology within the data center, Rudolph said.

"This is all a part of the overall vision of SWsoft right now," Rudolph said. "It means that we will have everything covered in virtualization from the desktop to the data center ... We can create an infrastructure where all these pieces can plug in together and manage your entire physical and virtual infrastructure."

Right now, Rudolph believes that SWsoft and its Parallels business is poised to take advantage of the market, especially in the wake of the VMware IPO and the Citrix acquisition of XenSource. With those two developments, both SWsoft and Virtual Iron are positing themselves as the independent, low-cost alternatives.

"Right now, virtualization is changing the way people work with computers, both at the desktop level and servers," Rudolph said. "Whats good for one of us is good for all of us."

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