XenSource has an aggressive product road map planned for its virtualization platform in 2007 as its tries to close the gap with market leader VMware.
On Monday, the Palo Alto, Calif., virtualization software company -- a spinoff of the Xen open-source virtualization hypervisor project -- released its second upgrade, XenEnterprise 3.2. The upgrade ships just one quarter after XenSource announced its first Windows version, XenEnterprise 3.1.
XenSource shipped its first product for Linux in early 2006 but made a bigger splash in December by providing XenEnterprise 3.1 with support for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, according to company executives.
XenEnterprise 3.2 adds support for Windows 2000 server, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 Service Pack 1, as well as support for more affordable iSCSI SANs, Windows symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), more drivers, and enhanced manageability and security.
SMP support will enable scalable virtualization of Exchange, SQL Server and other multithreaded server applications, the company said.
XenSource also improved the platform's network performance and ability to suspend and resume virtual machines, and it added other new features such as Virtual LAN trunk support and better CPU, disk and network resource control.
XenSource said it has signed up more than 200 customers in its first three months on the market and has 17 distributors worldwide.
In the June time frame, XenSource plans to ship a major upgrade of XenEnterprise with features that are key to midmarket and enterprise customers, including live relocation of virtual machines, similar to VMware's VMotion; 64-bit shared storage support; and new disaster-recovery and high-availability features, said John Bara, vice president of marketing at XenSource.
"We feel good about our road map, and we're closing the gap with VMware," Bara said. "The two clear sources for Windows virtualization are VMware and XenSource, and we're right on VMware's tail."
XenSource is basing its business on a 100-percent channel model and has established an in-house sales team to help support solution providers in the field.
One IBM Business Partner said he sold XenSource to a number of customers this quarter and expects the company to continue to make gains against VMware with XenEnterprise 3.2 and future versions.
During the quarter, XenSource announced a bundled deal with IBM that allows IBM Business Partners to sell XenEnterprise on IBM's xServers.
"XenSource is on a determined march to catch and pass VMware, and they are making steady and real progress. This [3.2] release is solid performancewise, easy to use and install, and has some interesting new features like Windows SMP for demanding apps like Exchange or SQL," said Francis Poeta, president of P&M Computers, Cliffside Park, N.J. "The addition of iSCSI helps midmarket accounts use lower-cost storage and standard networking to do backup and disaster recovery of Xen virtual machines.
"Though we are a VMware VIP Partner, we looked at the options and considered XenSource the more viable solution for the vast majority of our customers," Poeta added. "I have found XenSource to be a solid and responsive partner, and I look forward to growing my business with them."
XenSource maintains it is the only Xen game in town, but other Xen virtualization vendors, such as Virtual Iron, Lowell, Mass., are building channel support of their own.
"When it comes to enterprise-class virtualization, VMware and Virtual Iron are the only two companies that offer that type of technology,' said Aaron Schneider, director of sales engineering at The Pinnacle Group, Carlsbad, Calif. "We have currently not seen any demand for XenEnterprise within our customer base. However, many customers are looking for alternatives to VMware due to cost."