Xensource unveils low cost VMware competitor

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Xensource unveils low cost VMware competitor

Virtualisation vendor ships first version that support both
Windows and Linux.

Xensource has launched a beta of its XenEnterprise 3.1 application, offering what it claims is a cheaper alternative to VMWare's virtualisation software.

The new software is the first version of Xensource's application that allows enterprises to run Windows in virtual compartments. The company last August released a version that only supported Linux operating systems.

"We now have all the features of VMware, but at only 20 per cent of the cost, " John Bara, vice president of marketing for Xensource, told vnunet.com.

He furthermore boasted that the software offers superior performance over VMWare and other Xen implementations because of support for acceleration technologies that are built into Intel and AMD chips as well as a set of proprietary acceleration technologies.

XenSource offers a commercial implementation of the open source Xen technology that was developed at the University of Cambridge.

Several operating system vendors are building in support for the technology, including Sun Microsystems and Red Hat. Microsoft has also promised to add support for the technology in its forthcoming version of Windows Server codenamed "Longhorn".

Novell last summer launched its Xen-enabled Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10.

XenSource's software is essentially a bundle of the company's own Linux distribution bundled with the Xen open source technology. Users will install their operating systems and applications in virtual compartments that sit on top of the Xen Linux distribution.

Although there aren't any server vendors that currently ship Xensource-certified hardware, Bara said that he was confident that would happen "within the next year". In the mean time he is relying on system integrators and hardware distributors to install and support the software on new servers.

The market share figures for virtualisation on industry standard x86 servers are largely stable and hover around 5 percent. Xensource is betting on the fact that the relatively high pricing for VMware is one of the main factors that is holding back the technology.

A second factor that could increase adoption, argued Bara, is standardisation around the Xen platform.

Xensource initially plans to target Windows users looking for a server consolidation platform. At a later stage the firm will broaden its focus to include enterprises looking to run disparate operating system such as Windows and Linux as virtual system on a single physical server.

XenSource expect to launch a final version of its XenEnterprise by December. General availability is projected for January 2007. Licence fees start at US$488 for a 2-way server per year or US$750 for a perpetual licence.
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