Virtual Iron Takes a Swing at iSCSI Storage Trend

The latest version of the company's enterprise virtualization platform supports iSCSI storage capabilities and offers new management features for virtual networks.

Virtual Iron, which has been presenting itself as a low-cost virtualization vendor alternative to VMware, is releasing the latest version of its enterprise platform, which will now offers support for iSCSI storage capabilities.

The Lowell, Mass., company will start offering Version 3.5 of its virtualization software on March 5. As with previous versions of the software, Version 3.5 will cost $499 per socket for the multi-server enterprise edition.

Virtual Iron, which has been trying to take market share from VMware by offering its virtualization software at a cheaper rate, also offers customers a free, perpetual license for its single-server version with up to four sockets.

The companys virtualization platform is based on the Xen open-source hypervisor, and it supports Intels on-chip virtualization technology.

The latest version also supports iSCSI, which is an Internet protocol-based storage networking standard for linking data storage facilities.

Mike Grandinetti, Virtual Irons chief marketing officer, said SMBs (small and midsize businesses) have started to adopt iSCSI as an alternative to the more expensive Fibre Channel for connectivity.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about the relative adoption rates of iSCSI and Fibre Channel.

In addition, Grandinetti said, enterprises have now also begun looking at iSCSI storage networks, which means that Virtual Iron is in a position to address this growing IT infrastructure trend.

"According to Gartner, the iSCSI was a $200 million dollar market in 2005 and its expected to double every year for the next five years. You also have the adoption of iSCSI in enterprises at the department level," Grandinetti said.

He also pointed to a recent IDC forum in New York that discussed the future of virtualization and the need to offer more secure solutions that also address data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity.

Eventually, Grandinetti said this trend of adopting iSCSI storage capabilities will lead to the broader adoption of advance use cases in areas such as utility computing and capacity management.

Version 3.5 also offers new deployment capabilities. The companys customers will now be able to download Virtual Iron Virtualization Manager and Virtualization Services on the same server that is running a companys virtual platform.

Finally, the new software offers updated authentication and management tools, including support for OpenLDAP and Microsofts Active Directory.

Gentry Ganote, CIO of Golf and Tennis Pro Shop, in Atlanta, said his company, which owns a chain of stores called PGA Tour Superstore, has been using Virtual Iron because its software uses the open-source Xen hypervisor, and because of the lower cost.

/zimages/1/28571.gifThe growing demand for virtualization products creates a need for better management tools. Click here to read more.

"They are also supported by Intel and that was very big for us," Ganote told eWEEK.

The next step, Ganote said, is the expansion of the companys e-commerce division, and he plans to use the latest version of Virtual Irons software to assist with virtualization and storage needs.

"The iSCSI piece is a little more cost-effective, and without the Fibre Channel HBAs [host bus adapters] it does not take up as many ports," he said. "With our blades and the virtualization software, its 100 percent easier to manage all the servers."

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