Virtually Speaking: Moving Along

by Amy Newman

It was a week of small steps forward for VMware, XenSource and Virtual Iron as the three virtualization vendors announced a product release, a partnership and certification, respectively.

Amy Newman

Movement. Albeit plodding, but movement, nonetheless. If one word could be used to describe the virtualization scene this week, that would be it. It was a week where the fruits of previously laid groundwork were reaped for the three prominent virtualization vendors.

For starters, VMware deemed version 3 of its Converter tool production ready. The tool was announced back in October and was released as a free and public beta at that time. On Monday, it was made generally available in Enterprise and Starter editions. They are intended to be used as their names imply.

The differences between the free Starter edition and the Enterprise edition are substantial. The Starter Edition allows only one conversion at a time whereas the Enterprise edition enables multiple concurrent conversions.

Ben Matheson, director of product management, describes this release as "a big leap forward," adding that version 3 is "faster and more reliable than previous versions."

Key new features are "hot cloning," which is the capability to replicate on the fly, and remote tool management via a thin client, Matheson said.

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VMware Converter Starter is available free of charge. Pricing for VMware Converter Enterprise is bit trickier. It's being made available at no additional cost to VMware VirtualCenter Management Server (which lists at $5,000) customers who have support and subscription contracts. This is approximately 80 percent of the ESX customers, Matheson told ServerWatch.

VMware wasn't the only vendor showing signs of "movement" this week.

XenSource got a boost when Tech Data's Advanced Infrastructure Solutions Division (AIS) paired XenEnterprise with two IBM System x servers.

AIS plays a consulting-like role between OEMs and the VARs, brokering partnerships to offer VARs, as in this case, "pressing the Easy Button for IBM VARs," Mike Mersch, North American channel manager for XenSource told ServerWatch.

The agreement is likely a bigger deal for XenSource than IBM, as it represents acknowledgment from Big Blue that XenEnterprise is indeed enterprise-ready. IBM has a similar deal with VMware in place, Rob Sauerwalt, global brand manager, client/server virtualization for System x said.

It is, however, Tech Data's only Xen-enabled pre-bundle, Mersch noted.

John Bara, vice president of marketing for XenSource describes the offerings as "ideal for the midmarket [whereas] VMware is more for the higher end. XenEnterprise's strengths play more to the midmarket — for Windows and Linux."

Under the terms of the deal, IBM System x3500 and x3550 rackmount or tower servers can be configured with XenSource's XenEnterprise. Although the servers haven't been modified or optimized in any way for XenEnterprise, Tech Data has put them through a multi-point inspection process, Bara said.

Tech Data will provide customer support via the VARs, and XenSource will offer direct support as well, Bara added.

Rounding out the hypervisor vendor crawl was Virtual Iron Software, which announced that DataCore Software’s SANmelody virtual storage solutions have been certified for use within a Virtual Iron environment.

SANmelody software converts PC-based servers into cost-effective disk servers and virtual SANs. Their capacity appears as additional internal drives to servers on LANs or SANs, and makes networked storage available at a lower price point.

Together, DataCore SANmelody and Virtual Iron "deliver advanced capabilities at a fraction of the cost, enabling enterprise-class virtualization for the mainstream market," said John Thibault, president and CEO of Virtual Iron, noted in a statement.

Product releases, partnerships and product certifications don't make for four-inch headlines. They do, however, make for happier customers and satisfied end users, and are one more step toward maturity.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been following the virtualization space since 2001.

This article was originally published on Friday Feb 2nd 2007
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