XenSource Launches Enterprise Virtualization Product

Virtualization technology upstartXenSource has announced XenEnterprise, a commercial virtualization package that supports Windows and Linux. The new product challenges VMware’s dominance in the market for server virtualization, and for support and management of virtualization.

Until now, XenSource has focused on including its open source Xen hypervisor technology in operating systems such as Windows and Suse Linux. The latest announcement is meant to convey that Xen has come into its own — both as a technology and a business, Gartner Vice President George Weiss told LinuxInsider.

“It’s very big for XenSource, because this is the moment when they have to convince the market they have a viable business model that goes beyond the open source project,” he said.

x86 Marks the Spot

XenEnterprise is based on the latest version of the virtualization hypervisor, Xen 3.0.3, and brings open virtualization technology to x86 servers with multiple operating systems, XenSource said.

XenEnterprise includes a management and monitoring console, and allows theinstallation and management of multiple “guests” on the same server.

The retail version of XenEnterprise, which is currently available in beta form and for paid pilot programs, will be available next month, priced at US$488 for an annual subscription license per dual socket server and $750 perpetual licenseper dual socket server.

“Unlike competing products, we don’t believe the cost of the virtualization software should exceed the cost of the server,” said XenSource Vice President of Marketing John Bara.

Open Trend

AlthoughVMware is the leader in enterprise virtualization software, it must address competition from a number of smaller players, including XenSource and SWsoft, as well as the general trend toward openness, 451 Group Senior Analyst Raven Zachary told LinuxInsider.

“It’s in VMware’s interest to make an open source play — to placate their customers and compete with the growing trend of open virtualization,” he said.

Just as JBoss was able to quickly challenge giants BEA and IBM in the middleware space, XenSource — which may be in a position to acquire other companies and pieces — has the potential to successfully challenge its Goliath-like competitor, Zachary explained.

“The same thing could happen if VMware isn’t quick to adapt,” he added.

In addition to moving toward openness, virtualization is also headed toward a zero-cost basis, leaving services and management of virtualization across environments as the key business opportunity, according to Zachary.

Though he called the XenEnterprise release and announcement “the right move” from XenSource, Zachary questioned the company’s revenue potential as virtualization becomes more commoditized.

Virtual Trifecta

XenSource will have to do a lot of explanation and presentation to successfully pitch a virtualization solution that is attractive to enterprise users, Gartner’s Weiss said.

The company is expected to do very well in the x86 server market, he noted. However, he voiced concern over how XenSource would work with Microsoft, which may have developed its own hypervisor, and Novell, which distributes Suse Linux and last week announced a partnership with Microsoft.

The three companies would be best served by putting their virtualization pieces together, Weiss suggested. They should be clear about rights and responsibilities, and “make this into something holistic,” he said. Currently, that does not appear to be the direction they’re moving in.

“At a time when nobody has any road map of any specific role, it isgoing to be confusing,” he added.

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