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Open Source Virtualization by Xen

Virtualization efforts on Linux got a major boost today with the open source release of Xen 3.0.

In conjunction with the new release, Xen's commercial sponsor XenSource is also rolling out an application to help manage virtualization in enterprise data centers.

Xen 3.0 is expected to make its way into Red Hat and Novell's SUSE enterprise Linux distributions, as well as Solaris 10, thereby providing an open source alternative to VMware and other proprietary virtualization tools.

Xen 3.0 includes numerous improvements over its predecessor, which was released a year ago and has since benefited from the involvement of IBM, among others.

SMP support for up to 32-way virtualized guests has been added to Xen, allowing it to take full advantage of the high end of enterprise deployments. Memory addressing has also been improved with 64-bit servers able to address up to 8TB of memory and 32-bit up to 4GB.

It also boasts "near native performance" that allows it to run with a virtualization overhead of between 0.1 percent and 3.5 percent for a paravirtualized guest.

Xen 3.0 also supports hardware virtualization technology, including Intel's VT-x virtualization technology and the upcoming AMD Pacifica.

Sitting on top of Xen 3.0 is XenOptimizer, a commercial management tool from XenSource that enables the automatic provisioning of Xen virtual servers and provides a management dashboard for full control of the virtualized environments.

According to Simon Crosby, CTO of XenSource, Xen is all about better and more efficient server utilizations. Xen offers the promise of getting more out of each server without requiring data centers to buy additional boxes.

"For every dollar that you don't spend on a box, you save another five or six in operating expenses," Crosby told internetnews.com.

Virtualization is something that users want, he added, but it hasn't necessarily helped back the adoption of Linux overall.

"People want virtualization. They just don't want to pay a vast amount of money for it and they don't want to buy into yet another proprietary feature set."