Virtual Iron Adds Power Management Feature to Virtualization Suite

Virtual Iron, which still looks to compete in the x86 virtualization space with the likes of VMware and Citrix Systems, is releasing an updated version of its Virtual Iron virtualization suite that adds a power management feature called LivePower. Virtual Iron will also support the Intel Node Manager technology.

Virtual Iron Software, which is continuing to carve out a niche as a supplier of x86 virtualization technologies to small and midsize businesses, is updating its main virtualization product with a new power management feature.

At the end of August, Virtual Iron plans to release Version 4.4 of its Virtual Iron virtual infrastructure suite, to include a power management feature dubbed LivePower. At the upcoming Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, which starts Aug. 19, Virtual Iron also plans to announce support for Intel's Node Manager, an energy management tool that is embedded in the chip set.

While virtualization is becoming more and more a mainstream technology, businesses are looking for ways to expand virtualization beyond its traditional role as a server consolidation tool for the data center. Now, enterprises are looking at virtualization as a way to create a high-availability infrastructure and plan for disaster recovery.

While VMware is still considered the leading producer of x86 virtualization technology, the company will start turning its attention to helping create cloud computing infrastructures.

In the case of Virtual Iron, which uses the open-source Xen hypervisor as the centerpiece of its virtualization suite, the company said it believes that its core group of SMB customers is looking for ways to better control power costs and consolidate more workloads onto fewer servers.

With the LivePower feature, users of the Virtual Iron suite can set polices that will shut down physical machines when there are no virtual machines running on the hardware. At the same time, if there is excessive CPU capacity, LivePower can consolidate virtual machines onto fewer physical ones.

"This is an extension of our ability to load balance and manage CPU resources," said Tim Walsh, director of marketing for Virtual Iron. "It monitors resource utilization in the servers and the user can set a threshold. So, if they see a server being used less than 50 percent, the user can start to look for places to move those workloads, those virtual machines, onto other servers with the target of shutting that [physical] server down once they have moved [the virtual machines] off."

LivePower can also turn a server back on when there are more workloads.

In many ways, the technology is similar to the Distributed Power Management feature found in VMware's Virtual Center management suite.

In the case of small businesses that are not running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Live Power feature is a way to cut down on utility bills. It can also work to save power in test and development environments, where the servers might not need to run in 24-hour cycles.

For larger businesses and hosting companies, LivePower can help manage resources as these companies sell and rent out computing resources to their customers as part of a cloud infrastructure.

In addition to LivePower, Virtual Iron is offering support for Intel Node Manager, which also addresses power concerns, and will be available in 2009. The Intel Node Manager, which works with the BIOS and operating system power management, allows IT departments to keep track of power consumption within individual servers or nodes. That information can then be fed into LivePower to help set power use policies and create a time frame for powering off or turning on a particular server.

In order for this to work, IT managers will have to buy a separate piece of software from Intel to use Node Manager when it comes to market.

Version 4.4 of the Virtual Iron suite will be available to customers starting on Aug. 18. The pricing for the suite remains $799 per socket.