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SWsoft to Virtualize in Parallel

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jan 10, 2008


The virtualization vendor unveiled a beta version of Parallels Server, a Mac-centric hypervisor-based virtualization tool. It joins SWsoft's desktop tool of the same name and Virtuozzo, its OS-level server virtualization offering.

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As SWsoft prepares to change its name to Parallels, it is focusing in on the technology whose name it will be taking. On Wednesday, the company released a beta version of Parallels Server, a hypervisor-based server virtualization solution. Like its desktop counterpart of the same name, Parallels Server is designed to run on Apple hardware — Mac Pros and Xserves — and can run multiple copies of Mac OS X Server on a single Apple computer.

Parallels Server may be SWsoft's first hypervisor-based offering, but SWsoft is no stranger to server virtualization. It first entered the space in 2001 with Virtuozzo, which virtualizes at the operating system level.

Despite its emphasis on Parallels, the company has no intention of discontinuing Virtuozzo, Director of Corporate Communications Ben Rudolph told ServerWatch. For now, the company plans to continue developing and selling both brands.

"In the short term, Parallels and Virtuozzo will be treated as two separate products with integration at the management layer," Rudolph said. Virtuozzo Manager will be modified to enable both OS- and hardware-level virtualization. The company will also extend its virtualization management tools to be able to manage both Virtuozzo Containers and Parallels virtual machines (VMs).

Down the road, SWsoft plans to make the management tool available to any virtual environment. In the even longer term, the products will be blended together further, with live migration from container to server made possible, Rudolph said.

The announcement of the Parallels Server beta was timed to coincide with Apple's latest hardware release. The chipsets in Apple's new servers have VT-d, for which Parallels offers experimental support, Rudolph said. Parallels Server also offers full support for Intel VT-x.

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The newly unveiled Xserve holds up to two Quad Core 3.0 GHz Intel Xeon processors that deliver eight cores of performance. The new Xserve contains two 1600 MHz front-side buses and up to 32GB of 800 MHz DDR2 ECC FB-DIMM memory that deliver as much as 64 percent more memory throughput.

But it is the unlimited client license for Mac OS X Server Leopard that is most important to SWsoft.

Rudolph said he believes Parallels Server "will make Xserve a much more compelling alternative," in no small part because, Parallels will be the first product to enable multiple Mac OS X VMs instances on a single piece of Apple hardware.

Although Parallels Server supports any combination of more than 50 different guest operating systems, including Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Enterprise Linux and Sun Solaris (as well as in a headless mode via a "bare metal" hypervisor), for the first enterprises that run Parallels Server on Leopard-powered Xserves will be able to do so in a VM environment.

The Mac OS X Server v10.5 Leopard EULA now allows Leopard Server to be virtualized on Apple hardware. This is a boon for SWsoft, as Parallels is the primary player in this space.

Parallels Server also seeks to enhance VM management via the management console; multiuser access to the same VM; and open, fully scriptable APIs for customized management.

It supports for up to 64GB of RAM on the host computer, x64 primary and guest OSes, and 2-way SMP (with plans to support 4-way SMP in the final release) and ACPI in virtual machines.

Parallels Server is currently in private beta testing, but the SWsoft is accepting registrations for new beta testers.

As for the name change, Rudolph estimates it will be official within the next two weeks.

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