XenSource Readies Xen Hypervisor Update

The latest update to the open-source virtualization hypervisor adds support for 32- and 64-bit virtual guests and allows for greater use of virtualization technology from Intel and AMD.

XenSource is releasing an updated version of the open-source Xen hypervisor. Version 3.1 will be available as of May 22, and will include several enhancements such as support for both 32- and 64-bit virtual machines within the software.

This hypervisor enhancement will allow users to virtualize 32-bit Microsoft Windows and Linux guests, while giving them to ability to support 64-bit, mission-critical workloads like Microsoft Exchange Server and SQL Server 2007, Oracle products, SAP products, and IBMs DB2 database.

In addition, the updated Xen software supports live relocation—the ability to move a virtual machine from one physical node to another physical node without interruption—and dynamic memory control for virtual machines that support Intels Virtualization Technology or Advanced Micro Devices AMD Virtualization.

Finally, the update to the Xen software includes a management API to support ISVs developing tools around the hypervisor, said Ian Pratt, project leader for the open-source Xen project.

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These various additions to the Xen hypervisor mean that the architecture is well suited for not only x86 platform, but for other platforms such as Intels Itanium architecture and IBMs PowerPC systems, Pratt said.

XenSource was founded in 2005 by developers of the open-source Xen project. Since then it has released several enterprise-level products, including its XenEnterprise 3.2 software, which provides for greater support of Microsoft Windows and multicore processors.

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Other virtualization companies, notably Virtual Iron Software, have used the open-source hypervisor to develop virtualization products. These lower-cost products from XenSource and Virtual Iron compete with VMware in the virtualization space, which is expected to grow significantly in the next two years.

Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of XenSource, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said that while the company is spearheading the announcement of the new features and updates for the Xen hypervisor engine, it does not use these occasions to talk about or discuss new products built around the software.

Some of the other key contributors to the latest release of the Xen hypervisor include Intel, IBM, Novell, VA Linux Systems Japan, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu, SGI, Red Hat, AMD, Sun Microsystems, Unisys and the National Security Agency.

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