New Data-Center Management Software Delivers Native Virtualization

Most significantly, the new software suite, called Virtual Iron Version 3, will help users reduce the cost and technical complexity of managing data centers without having to invest more in their existing software stack.

Version 3, unveiled Monday at LinuxWorld, is the first to deliver "native virtualization," meaning it takes full advantage of Intel's recently announced Virtualization Technology. Intel has built hardware-assisted capabilities into its processors and therefore does not require installation or management of the virtualization services on the physical servers.

Consequently, users are able to carry out data-center management more efficiently and less expensively. The new architecture also enables Virtual Iron to support both Linux and Windows operating systems, company officials say.

Virtual Iron officials also believe the new version will allow the company to compete in a much broader market.

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"This release is all about making Zen enterprise-ready and offering customers a more viable economic alternative to take advantage of virtualization capabilities," says John C. Thibault, president and CEO of Virtual Iron. "We also think this puts the architecture in place for us to address a much larger market, as well as laying the groundwork to offer Windows support."

Likewise, company officials believe, the new product allows its network of partners to pursue more lucrative opportunities.

"The retail opportunity for the channel, with this release, is much greater than in the past. It certainly allows us to take VMWare head on," Thibault says. "We are leveraging open source and open standards even more and so are creating multiple revenue opportunities for partners."

Some service providers say they like what they see of the new version, noting it could help them in satisfying various service-level agreements.

"Our goal has been to leverage open-source economics as well as consolidate our multi-OS data centers, but we need reliability, scalability and manageability to ensure we deliver on service-level agreements. With this new release, we like the direction they are taking," says Eric Bogatie, president of NI Solutions, a managed Web service provider.

To further ensure the product will appeal to partners, Virtual Iron has built technical extensions that sit on top of the new version that allow them to more readily create customized solutions.

"[VARs] can now take virtualization and be able to integrate it with other technologies out there, like a SAN replication technology and other management capabilities, and create holistic business-continuity strategies for users," says Chris Barkley, a marketing executive with Virtual Iron. "Open-source code lets us create a greater ecosystem around VARs."

The new release also includes Virtual Iron's policy-based Virtualization Manager, which serves as a central location for users to both monitor and automate all virtual resources. This better allows users to virtualize servers and manage applications, including those that need large amounts of memory and multiple processors, company officials say.

Version 3 will be sold in three editions: Open Virtual Iron for Xen/Community Edition, which supports the Xen development community, has the Open Source Virtualization Stack and is free of charge; Virtual Iron 3 for Xen/Professional Edition, which supports partitioning and management of a single system, contains the Virtualization Services and Virtualization Manager, and is also free; and Virtual Iron 3 for Xen/Enterprise Edition, which has the Virtualization Services and Virtualization Manager, but also contains features for high availability, disaster recovery and workload management.

The company expects to begin beta testing the Linux version of Virtual Iron 3 for Xen in July, followed by the Windows version in September.

Pricing for the Enterprise Edition will average $1,500 for a single server.