Virtual Iron launches Version 4

Virtual Iron has announced the latest version of its eponymous software product.

According to VI, Version 4 “establishes new ease-of-use standards for creating, provisioning and managing the complete lifecycle of virtual machines across large numbers of physical servers.”

Version 4 is aimed at mainstream virtualization requirements including server consolidation, dev/test automation, high availability, disaster recovery, dynamic capacity management and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), said the company.

Features new to the release include:

• Integration of the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 kernel and drivers from Novell.

• The most current version of the Xen open source 3.1 hypervisor. This also helps with Windows SMP up to eight CPUs, reckoned VI. Each VM can use from one-tenth of a CPU to all eight CPUs. It also brings ACPI support which adds dynamic hot plugging of CPU, network and storage running into virtual machines, allowing users to support a larger number of virtual machines per host.

• New physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) migration powered by PlateSpin. This allows users to migrate workloads (data, applications, and operating systems) across physical, virtual, blade and image-based infrastructures in any direction.

• A new graphical virtualization management interface for creating new virtual machines and managing their entire lifecycle. “We’ve added report generators with graphical capabilities,” said marketing manager Mike Grandinetti. The console also includes new graphing and reporting tools for measuring resource utilization and performance including CPU, memory, disk and network I/O. These capabilities simplify management of the entire virtual environment.

• Expanded 32 and 64 bit OS support to include Win2k and Vista and RHEL3.

• Multi-processor (SMP) Windows support. It can use from one-tenth of a CPU to a full 8 CPUs, according to VI. Pre-existing features that remain include:

• LiveMigrate: The ability to move virtual servers between physical servers with no downtime.

• LiveCapacity: Monitors virtual server CPU utilization to determine when a workload needs additional capacity and live migrates it to a physical server when needed • LiveRecovery: Monitors the status of physical resources and moves virtual servers to maintain uptime in the event of a hardware failure

• LiveMaintenance: Moves virtual servers to alternate locations without downtime when a physical server is taken offline for maintenance. This allows physical server maintenance to be performed outside scheduled maintenance windows without downtime

• LiveProvisioning: An automated deployment capability that eliminates the need for physical installation or management of virtualization software on virtualized physical servers. The company’s product development strategy entails integrating components from a number of sources, such as XenSource, Platespin and Novell, and reselling the resulting package at a price far below that of market leader VMware’s equivalent product.

The benefits of this approach, according to Grandinetti, are that you get class-leading products. For example, he said: “We have a relationship with Novell that allows us to use SUSE Linux Enterprise, so we’ve have integrated it and the drivers. It’s good for customers because OS vendors have tested their software against loads of hardware which means peace of mind. In contrast, XenSource uses an unsupported Debian distribution.

“We want to reduce cost and complexity,” said Grandinetti. “All you have to do is install VI and it goes out and finds the VMs and makes it all work. With the other two main players, you must physically install on every server by hand. And VMware customers need Linux programming skills, which means some customers have sent the software back.”

“Small and medium-sized organizations looking at virtualization should not feel that they have to sacrifice advanced features for the sake of cost,” said Chris Wolf, senior analyst at the Burton Group.

“Simple deployment, live migration, centralized policy-based management such as VM high availability and data centre load balancing, and comprehensive hardware certification and support should be viewed as requirements for any virtualization deployment, regardless of an organization’s size.”

“With Version 4, Virtual Iron continues to add important new capabilities for advanced virtual infrastructure management and distance its solution from other Xen-based solutions,” said Phillip Huber, COO for U.K.-based XCalibre Communications, a hosted solutions provider. “We have evaluated the different offerings on the market very closely and Virtual Iron is the only server virtualization platform that could turn our vision for a flexible and dynamic IT infrastructure into reality.

This latest version will deliver improved operational efficiencies, increase service levels and will thus make our new FlexiScale hosted services platform even more attractive.”

The packaging has changed, with the addition of the Extended Enterprise Edition. Virtual Iron v4 Single Server Edition is free and offers up to 12 virtual servers on one physical server; SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 from Novell, kernel and drivers; local disk storage. The Enterprise Edition costs US$499 per socket and supports unlimited virtual servers, adding Local, iSCSI, Fibre Channel storage, virtual SMP, VLANs, LiveMigration, LiveMaintenance. The Extended Enterprise Edition costs $799 per socket and adds LiveRecovery.

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