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Virtualization News Dominates LinuxWorld

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Apr 5, 2006


LinuxWorld usually has an underlying trend or two, and nothing was clearer this year than virtualization. Linux and virtualization technology try to do more with less. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that virtualization on Linux makes an awful lot of sense to an increasing number of users.

XenSource, VMWare, Virtual Iron, OpenVZ, and even Microsoft, beat the virtualization drum at this week's LinuxWorld.

Virtualization vendors XenSource, VMWare, Virtual Iron, and OpenVZ are among those beating the virtualization drum at LinuxWorld this year, each pushing the benefits of their respective releases and initiatives. Microsoft, too had a surprising virtualization announcement of its own.

Xen

One of the great drivers of the increased attention surrounding virtualization on Linux is XenSource's Xen project, which recently released version 3 of its open source hypervisor. Xen is already inside Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and is a part of Red Hat's Fedora Core 5. It is also set for inclusion in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.

When it released Xen 3, XenSource also announced a commercial product called XenOptimizer, which was going to be a management tool for Xen. XenOptmizer never made it to market as a released product.

"XenOptimizer has essentially been shelved," XenSource CTO Simon Crosby told internetnews.com.

In its place, XenSource is now announcing XenEnterprise, which is an enterprise-ready bundle for Xen deployment and management. Crosby explained that some of the core utilities in XenEnterprise are the same as what had been planned for XenOptimizer.

"XenEnterprise includes a basic Xen management console, which allows you to provision guests and assign them resources, and all of that stuff comes straight from that {XenOptimizer} code base," Crosby said.

Xen still has quite a significant competitive challenge to overcome in the virtualization space from market leader VMware. Crosby knows XenSource isn't going to beat VMware alone.

"A 50-person startup on its own is no competition for a two-thousand-person gorilla," Crosby said. "For us it's all about partners, performance and our community."

"We don't have to go and compete with VMware in the Linux sector; Red Hat is going to take them out."

Linux distributions aren't the only vendors getting in on the Xen action.

Virtual Iron

Virtualization vendor Virtual Iron  jumped on the Xen bandwagon this week as well. The company announced version 3  of Virtual Iron  will use the Xen hypervisor to provide Virtual Iron's advanced virtualization and policy-based management capabilities to Xen.

Mike Grandinetti, vice president and chief marketing officer of Virtual Iron, told ServerWatch that he foresees the virtualization space boiling down to hypervisors from three organizations: Xen, VMware, and Microsoft.Virtual Iron is placing its eggs in the Xen basket.

Grandinetti notes that this will be the first fully supported commercial application on Xen.

Scheduled for a July beta release, the Virtual Iron product suite will include: the Xen Open Source Hypervisor (for both 32- and 64-bit environments), Virtual Iron Virtualization Services, and Virtual Iron Virtualization Manager.

The product will come in three flavors: Open Source Virtual Iron for Xen / Community Edition, which is aimed at the developer community and Grandinetti describes as comparable to VMware's ESX server; Virtual Iron 3 for Xen / Professional, which is aimed at user enterprises but will come with only a limited number of user licenses; and Virtual Iron 3 for Xen / Enterprise Edition, which offers additional features and user licenses.

Both the Community and Enterprise Editions will be free, and the community edition will be released under the GPL. The Enterprise Edition will be priced at $1,500 per server, per socket.

VMware

Virtualization king VMware isn't resting on its laurels while the Xen ecosystem attempts to gain market share. VMware will open up its virtual machine disk format specification for defining and formatting virtual machine environments.

The format specification is being made available for free and without royalty, but not under an open source license.

Dan Chu, senior director of developer and ISV products at VMware, explained to internetnews.com that this is the format that defines how any server or desktop gets encapsulated in a virtualized environment, and it also defines how that environment resides on the underlying file system.

Chu noted that the format is critical to how virtual environments are managed patched, updated and provisioned. By opening up the format, VMware is hoping to further fuel the growth and pervasiveness of virtualization in the enterprise.

"We firmly believe this helps to grow the market for everyone, and since we've got the lion's share, that helps us," Chu said.

Microsoft

 Microsoft also climbed aboard the Linux bandwagon, announcing it will support Linux in the form of  virtual machine add-ins and 24 x 7 technical support. It also made its Virtual Server 2005 R2 a free download.

Previously, the software was priced at $99 for up to four instances, or $199 for an unlimited number of processors.

These latest moves beg the question, Is virtualization leader VMware in danger of being "Netscaped" by the software giant?

Netscape saw its dominant market share virtually disappear as Microsoft brought a free Internet Explorer and then made it part of Windows. But VMware points to its growing customer list and developer support and doesn't see itself in the Netscape role.

Microsoft also plans to integrate virtual server its hypervisor software as part of its Longhorn Server OS due out the end of this year. The Windows hypervisor would be delivered in the "Windows Server Longhorn wave" or some time after Longhorn's release.

Jim Ni, group product manager in Microsoft's Virtual Server group, said making its Virtual Server free "makes it easier for customers to access and experience the benefits of virtualization now. From a platform perspective, resource management has always been part of the operating system so customers are asking, 'Why am I paying for virtualization in the platform?'"

He confirmed Microsoft also plans to continue its support of both AMD and Intel, which are building more virtualization features into their processors.

This article was originally published on internetnews.com. Additional reporting by Amy Newman.

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