Virtual Iron Continues Its Virtualization Push

The upstart company has released an updated version of its virtualization platform and looks to entice customers by supporting Microsoft and giving away licenses.

In the virtualization game, Virtual Iron is continuing its push to take market share away from industry leader VMware.

The Lowell, Mass., company announced Dec. 11 that it would offer an updated version of its Virtual Iron virtualization platform, based on the Xen open-source hypervisor, which now will support 32-bit Windows XP and 2003 operating systems.

The latest announced version comes a few months after Virtual Iron released Version 3.0 of its platform, which supports Intels on-chip virtualization technology. That platform came in three different editions, but the company said the 3.1 offering will only enhance the Enterprise Edition and the company will stop supporting the other two editions.

Virtual Iron will then offer the 3.1 version to enterprises as well as small and midsize businesses.

In addition to announcing that it will now support unmodified Windows, as well as 32- and 64-bit Linux operating systems, Michael Grandinetti, Virtual Irons chief marketing officer, said the company would continue to make efforts to offer a low-cost alternative to VMware.

For the 3.1 Version, the company is offering customers a price of $499 per-socket for its multiserver enterprise edition. Virtual Iron also will offer customers a free, perpetual license for its single server with up to four sockets.

The latest version of Virtual Irons platform is immediately available, and the free version can be downloaded directly from the companys Web site, Grandinetti said.

John Thibault, Virtual Irons president and CEO, said the pricing and Windows support is clearly aimed at taking market share away from VMware and a way to offer customers a low-cost alternative virtualization platform.

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"This announcement is the most significant Virtual Iron has made to date," Thibault said. "This will allow us to align our core value and core beliefs and move forward. In a broader sense, we also believe that this will give customers economic choice. The price of virtualization should not be greater than the price of the server."

Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata in Nashua, N.H., said the move by Virtual Iron to support Windows, plus the companys effort to reduce its prices, will help it with customers looking for a low-cost alternative as well as putting pressure on VMware to reduce its own prices.

"I think they [Virtual Iron] have a good product, and it comes with an attractive price, but VMware is very well established and they do have the name recognition," Haff said, adding that Virtual Iron has to start supporting Windows since Red Hat and Novell will starting adding the Xen hypervisor to their operating systems.

The previous version, Virtual Iron 3.0 platform, offered features such as the automation of tasks like new server and application provisioning as well as dynamic movement of workloads. The platform also offered features that continually monitor the physical system and automatically respond to problems.

The software had come in three different editions, which included a Professional Edition, a Consolidation Edition, which had been specifically designed for server consolidation projects, and the Enterprise Editions that offers management capabilities in multiple server environments.

All the features found in the Professional and Consolidation editions will now be rolled into a sole Enterprise Edition of the Virtual Iron platform.

In addition to supporting the 32-bit Windows OS, the Virtual Iron 3.1 version supports Intels quad-core Xeon 5300 line of processors and Advanced Micro Devices hardware-assisted virtualization (AMD-V).

In 2007, when AMD releases its own quad-core processor, Grandinetti said Virtual Iron will support those chips as well.

The updated multiserver enterprise edition also offers support for hundreds of virtual servers, while its free, single-server edition supports up to 80 virtual servers for every single physical server, which will help save on space, power consumption and cooling in the data center. The 3.1 version will offer support for virtual disk files to improve storage and local hard disk support.

With its latest version, Grandinetti believes that Virtual Iron will be in a much better position to take advantage of the Virtualization market in 2007. Its a market that a recent report from IDC is expected to grow to $15 billion by the end of the decade.

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