Virtually Speaking: Xen Achieves Higher Enterprise Consciousness

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Apr 6, 2007


Amy Newman
Anyone still questioning whether XenEnterprise is ready for their enterprise may have had their mind changed this week with XenSource's release of version 3.2. Windows users get more Xen. Will uXcomm's acquisition of Virtugo help deliver a better virtual management Ohm.

Key enhancements in this release are 8-way SMP support for both host and guest Windows 2003 and Windows XP, and iSCSI SAN support, XenSource vice president of marketing John Bara told ServerWatch.

Support for 8-way SMP makes XenEnterprise particularly well-suited for IIS, Exchange and SQL server, Bara said. Other multithreaded and compute-intensive applications will benefit from it as well. VMware's products, he notes, support only up to 4-way.

In fact, the bulk of version 3.2 enhancements center around Windows usability, which isn't surprising, given Windows is fast becoming a major part of XenEnterprise's customer base. Bara said that XenEnterprise picked up 200 new customers in the first quarter of 2007. The vast majority of these were Windows shops or Windows/Linux shops.

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Not bad considering the Windows version was first introduced in December 2006.

Also new in XenEnterprise 3.2 is support for Windows 2000 virtual servers, which enables the consolidation of deployed Windows server workloads. The new version offers improved Windows guest support — accelerated network performance, the capability to suspend and resume virtual machines, up to 8GB RAM per Windows guest, and signed drivers with WHQL certification. XenEnterprise has also kept pace with changes in the Linux universe. Version 3.2 supports Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1.

Other feature additions are VLAN trunk support for virtual bridges as well as CPU, disk and network resource control, which is designed to ensure high-priority workloads get resources they need.

These enhancements, along with improvements in manageability and serviceability, have resulted in XenEnterprise delivering "20 percent better performance than ESX on Linux," Bara said.

For obvious reason VMware ESX Server has evolved into the gold standard of both performance and feature benchmarking, and what makes this benchmark even more significant for Xen is that VMware had preciously selected the benchmarks for comparison.

The performance benchmark are posted on XenSource's site.

XenSource may make a usability claim of "10 minutes to Xen" and version 3.2 may include drivers to support more servers and add-in cards out of the box, but that doesn't mean server rooms that chose the Xen hypervisor are in the clear when it comes to managing their resources.

This week uXcomm, a company that provides management software, announced the acquisition of Virtugo Software, an ISV that offers performance and service-level management tools for virtual environments.

Founded in 2003, uXcomm cut its teeth delivering standards-based systems management solutions for manufacturers who needed to help customers manage disparate network devices from almost any management framework.

The addition of Virtugo, and with it VirtualSuite, means uXcomm's offerings now enable admins to to monitor and control their virtual machines from a single console. The combination of uXcomm's XManage platform, which supports XenSource's core virtualization technologies, and Virtugo's VirtualSuite, which supports VMware, delivers a complementary and integrated management solution for heterogeneous physical and virtual environments.

Virtugo's customer base spouts directly from the VMware channel. Hines describes it as a natural add-on for VMware.

Under terms of the agreement, uXcomm purchased all of Virtugo’s VirtualSuite product line, including Perform and PerformLite, Capacity, Optimize, Meter and Connect, as well as the company’s proven and tested architecture. The offerings are available modularly as well as within the suite.

The software, according to Earl Hines, director of marketing for product uXcomm, fills a gap not just in uXcomm's portfolio but in the virtual landscape as well. Until now, Hines notes, there was a gap between service-level automation offerings and performance management products. UXcomm is closing this gap in the form of capacity management and asset management products.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been following the virtualization space since 2001.

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