RealTime IT News

Momentum For Virtualization on Linux

BOSTON -- Linux and virtualization technology try to do more with less. It should come as no surprise, then, that virtualization on Linux makes an awful lot of sense to an increasing number of users.

Virtualization vendors XenSource, VMWare, Virtual Iron and OpenVZ are among those beating the virtualization drum at LinuxWorld this year, each pushing the benefits of their respective releases and initiatives.

One of the great drivers of the increased attention surrounding virtualization on Linux is XenSource's Xen project, which recently released version 3 of its open source hypervisor.

Xen is already inside Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and is a part of Red Hat's Fedora Core 5. It is also set for inclusion in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.

At the time it released Xen 3, XenSource also announced a commercial product called XenOptimizer, which was going to be a management tool for Xen. XenOptmizer never made it to market as a released product.

"XenOptimizer has essentially been shelved," XenSource CTO Simon Crosby told internetnews.com.

In its place, XenSource is now announcing XenEnterprise, which is an enterprise-ready bundle for Xen deployment and management. Crosby explained that some of the core utilities in XenEnterprise are the same as what had been planned for XenOptimizer.

"XenEnterprise includes a basic Xen management console, which allows you to provision guests and assign them resources, and all of that stuff comes straight from that {XenOptimizer} code base," Crosby said.

Xen still has quite a significant competitive challenge to overcome in the virtualization space from market leader VMware. Crosby knows XenSource isn't going to beat VMware alone.

"A 50-person startup on its own is no competition for a two-thousand-person gorilla," Crosby said. "For us it's all about partners, performance and our community."

"We don't have to go and compete with VMware in the Linux sector; Red Hat is going to take them out."

Linux distributions aren't the only vendors getting in on the Xen action.

Virtualization vendor Virtual Iron, which inception has been out to take share from Vmware, has now jumped on the Xen bandwagon, as well.

Virtual Iron version 3 now works on top of Xen providing Virtual Iron's advanced virtualization and policy-based management capabilities to Xen. What's more, the company is providing an open source licensed version called the Open Virtual Iron for Xen/Community Edition that will be available under the GPL .

There are also professional and enterprise editions that provide additional scalability and enterprise support features.

Mike Grandinetti, vice president and chief marketing officer of Virtual Iron, told to internetnews.com that the rationale behind the community edition, and to some extent Xen itself, the real value is not in hypervisor. Rather the value is really higher up the stack in the virtual services layer and the virtual infrastructure management platform.

VMware isn't resting on its laurels while the Xen ecosystem attempts to gain Market share. Today, VMware announced that it is opening up its virtual machine disk format specification for defining and formatting virtual machine environments.

The format specification is being made available for free and without royalty, but not under an open source license.

Dan Chu, senior director of developer and ISV products at Vmware, explained to internetnews.com that this is the format that defines how any server or desktop gets encapsulated in a virtualized environment, and it also defines how that environment resides on the underlying file system.

Chu noted that the format is critical to how virtual environments are managed patched, updated and provisioned. By opening up the format, VMware is hoping to further fuel the growth and pervasiveness of virtualization in the enterprise.

"We firmly believe this helps to grow the market for everyone, and since we've got the lion's share, that helps us, "Chu said.