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XenSource, Virtual Iron Ship Xen Virtualization Platforms

After more than a year of hype and anticipation, XenSource and Virtual Iron have finally begun shipping their virtualization platforms for Windows.

virtualization Windows

XenSource, the commercial spinoff of the Xen open-source project, released three new products: XenEnterprise, XenServer and XenExpress. Meanwhile, Virtual Iron formally announced the availability of its Virtual Iron platform with full support for unmodified Windows and Linux.

XenSource and Virtual Iron have been preparing for almost two years to launch the offerings and have embraced a 100 percent channel model. Both companies, for example, kicked off major partner programs in recent months and are actively recruiting partners.

Last December, XenSource unveiled a version of its Xen platform -- then dubbed XenOptimizer -- and expected to offer support for Windows, the dominant server platform, in early 2006. But plans changed, and the company renamed the product, positioning it for core virtualization and management platforms that would be easy to use. The first version of XenEnterprise for Linux was launched at LinuxWorld last August.

The delivery of XenSource's and Virtual Iron's platforms this week will usher in a new era for the virtualization market and foster stiff competition for VMware and Microsoft, according to industry observers. The XenSource and Virtual Iron platforms are being pitched as cost-effective because both use the open-source Xen hypervisor.

XenSource, Palo Alto, Calif., said its three para-virtualized products -- designed respectively for enterprise and midmarket customers and developers -- will offer "bare metal performance" that competes favorably against VMware, Microsoft Virtual Server and other established, proprietary virtualization platforms.

XenEnterprise pricing starts at $488 for an annual subscription license for a dual-socket server. XenServer, designed for standard Windows server deployments at midmarket customer sites, is priced at $99 per annual subscription per dual-socket license. XenSource also is offering a free copy of its XenExpress platform to developers and others that wish to test the environment. In addition, XenSource revealed that Amazon.com is a customer and Western Blue and Entisys are new partners.

XenSource's platform supports Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP guests. Support for Windows Server 2000 Server will be added in the first quarter, the company said. Support for AMD-V and Intel VT processors is required. On the Linux side, XenSource already offers guest support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and Debian Sarge.

Lowell, Mass-based Virtual Iron, for its part, announced general availability of Virtual Iron Version 3.1 with full support for unmodified Windows and Linux at $499 per socket. Virtual Iron originally planned to offer its own hypervisor but shifted course and announced it would support the Xen hypervisor last April. Its first platform, Virtual Iron 3.0, launched in October.

To drive adoption, Virtual Iron also has made available two free enterprise editions that enable businesses to try before they buy. One offering gives customers free perpetual licenses for up to four sockets with unlimited core support.

In addition, Virtual Iron is offering a free 30-day multiserver license that comes with access to the company's core platform and virtualization management and policy-based automation capabilities for an unlimited number of servers.

Virtual Iron also announced new customers, including The Charlotte Observer and Mobius Managment Services, as well as three partners: Oregon Structured Communications, Cambridge Solutions and Virtual Ngenuity.

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