Virtual Iron Preps Latest Virtualization Release

Virtual Iron angles for a spot as the low-cost, open-source alternative to VMware.

Virtual Iron, which has been working to position itself as the low-cost, open-source alternative to VMware, is releasing the fourth version of its namesake virtualization suite.

The Lowell, Mass., company will release Virtual Iron Version 4 on Sept. 10, just before the start of the VMworld conference in San Francisco, executives announced Sept. 4.

The new release of Virtual Irons signature enterprise product, according to Chief Marketing Officer Michael Grandinetti, not only gives the company a product that can compete again the likes of VMwares Virtual Infrastructure suite, but it will directly challenge the latest release from XenSource.

The release of Virtual Iron Version 4 comes at the tail end of a busy few months for the virtualization community as a whole. Since August, VMwares initial public offering has shown that the company is a juggernaut in its own right. A few days after that IPO, Citrix announced that it would acquire XenSource for $500 million.

Finally, Microsoft announced Aug. 29 that it would delay the release of its Windows Server 2008 product, which also might mean a delay for the companys Viridian hypervisor.

All these various moves within the virtualization space mean that Virtual Iron can claim that it remains the independent, low-cost alternative to VMware and XenSource.

"There is no question that the Citrix deal for XenSource and the VMware IPO validate what has been going on the virtualization field," Grandinetti told eWEEK. "We really think [there has] been a significant change in the market place and it puts a spotlight on the key players and adds some credibility to what we have been doing. Based on what we see day in and day out, this market has only been penetrated by about 3 percent. Its a largely growing but untapped market."


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Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata, said the Citrix acquisition of XenSource does put Virtual Iron in a better position. While Citrix is looking to create some of its own virtualization infrastructure and the XenSource acquisition will help with that part of the business, the company is mainly focused in delivering applications to the desktop.

"I dont see the XenSource deal like the one between EMC and VMware, where EMC left VMware alone to do its own thing," Haff said.

"I really dont expect XenSource to be a direct competitor to Virtual Iron going forward," he added. "They might still continue to compete for a while, but not over the long term. My belief is that this [release] does make Virtual Iron the low-cost alterative to XenSource and VMware, which is where they wanted to be in the first place."


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One of the more significant additions to Virtual Iron 4 is that its hypervisor technology is now integrated with Novells SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 kernel and driver. This means the companys customers can expect full Novell certification, which means better support, Haff said.

Virtual Iron is also expanding its partnership with PlateSpin to offer a new feature called LiveConvert. This will allow users to move data, an application or an operating system from a physical to a virtual environment or from a virtual to a virtual environment. It also allows for a virtual VMware environment to move into a Virtual Iron virtualized environment, Grandinetti said.

In addition, Virtual Iron, which uses the open-source Xen hypervisor as the basis for its virtualization products, will update its suite with the new 64-bit version of the Xen hypervisor, which will increase the memory density as well as support for 128GB of physical memory. The new suite also offers SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) support for Microsoft Windows and it will support up to eight physical CPUs with each Windows machine.

In anticipation of new offerings from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, Virtual Irons software is supporting quad-core processor technology as well.

Finally, Grandinetti said the company has added in a number of features that will allow IT to better manage virtual environments, including better graphics capabilities and a number of wizards and automated tools to help measure the performance and resource utilization.

"We really wanted to reduce the cost and complexity of server virtualization," Grandinetti said. "We are being very bold and we are saying that this release will continue to distance ourselves from XenSource and close the gap with Virtual Infrastructure 3."

Haff noted that Virtual Iron still has to improve some of its abilities around high availability and disaster recovery. He also said he believes that taking any share aware from VMware will remain a Herculean task for a smaller company like Virtual Iron.

Virtual Iron is offering three versions of its new software: a free version that supports up to 12 virtual machines on one physical machine, the Enterprise Edition, which costs $499 per socket, and an Extended Enterprise Version, which includes all the features for $799 per socket.


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