Virtual Iron Looks to Bundle Up New Customers

The virtualization company strengthens ties with HP and IBM to bring its software to the midmarket and SMBs.

Virtual Iron is looking to bundle up some new customers with help from two industry heavyweights.

Starting Oct. 16, Virtual Iron will begin bundling the latest version of its virtualization software with rack-mount and blade servers from Hewlett-Packard and IBM. The bundles, which include services, are being sold through Tech Data and its network of VARs.

Since its inception, Virtual Iron has tried to position itself as the low-cost provider of virtualization technology to both larger enterprises and mid-market companies. However, VMware, the worldwide leader in x86 server virtualization, has succeeded in making its way into the data centers of many major enterprises and has struck up deals with all the major vendors to sell or bundle their hypervisor and software suite with its systems.

With this latest development, Virtual Iron, of Lowell, Mass., is joining with the two biggest suppliers of servers to the enterprise, according to the latest survey of the market by IDC, which could give the company some headway in the enterprise and mid-market space.

"This is another continuation of our unique mission, which is to remove the cost and complexity of server virtualization," said Michael Grandinetti, chief marketing officer for Virtual Iron, which uses a Xen-based hypervsior as the basis of its virtualization technology. "HP and IBM are working with us to deliver these bundles because they hear from their customers that they want choice and they want an alternative."

The bundles, which will be available to customers Oct. 16, include Virtual Irons software and services. The virtualization software will work with HP and IBM servers that use either Intel or Advance Micro Devices microprocessors. The price, Grandinetti said, will also fit within the budgets of small business and mid-marker companies that want to experiment with x86 virtualization. It will also allow Virtual Iron to compete against a recent package of less expensive kits offered by VMware.

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Dave Spear, vice president and general manager of Virtual Technologies, an HP reseller that specializes in virtualization, said many smaller and mid-market companies are interested in low-cost virtualization technology for their businesses. While VMware owns the bulk of Fortune 500 companies, smaller businesses are willing to give Virtual Iron a look.

"VMware owns the other market, but they have a bit of struggle bringing their technology into the middle-market and the SMB [small and midsized business] space and Virtual Iron is a natural choice when you look at their price," said Spear, whose company is based in Denver. "You also have to look at how far Virtual Iron has come since its really only been a year since they have developed a viable product."

The bundle from IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., includes two servers—either an Intel-based System x3550 or x3500, or the AMD-based x3655—along with the service contract, virtualization and storage software for a price ranging from $12,396 to $13,843. While the Virtual Iron software supports storage choices, the actual storage server is an option.

The bundle from HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., is similar but adds a blade option.

That bundle includes two rack-mount servers—the HP ProLiant DL380, which uses an Intel processor, and the DL385, which uses an AMD chip. In addition, Virtual Iron is offering a bundle with HPs new BladeSystem c3000 blade chassis, which the company introduced in September at the 2007 VMworld Conference, along with the BL460c blade, which uses both Intel and AMD processors.

The bundles include two servers, virtualization and storage software but not the actual storage hardware, which can be added as an option. The price for the bundle that comes with the rack-mounted HP servers is $10,447, while the package that includes the blade and blade chassis is $33,114.

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