Virtual Iron has released a significant update to its virtualization system, as it looks to focus on specific-use cases such as disaster recovery and high availability.
Virtual Iron is based on the open-source Xen hypervisor, and the company is working to distinguish itself from the offerings of XenSource, which also sells commercialized, Xen-based offerings.
Server virtualization is used to divide up a single physical machine so it can act as several independent servers. Xen runs on a host operating system, typically Linux, and allows operating systems such as Windows to run as guests.
XenSource was acquired by Citrix earlier this year, making it all the more formidable as a competitor to Virtual Iron. Virtual Iron also faces a challenge from the might of VMware, which controls most of the virtualization market.
In the latest update, Virtual Iron 4.2, the company's response is to zoom in on particular virtualization uses that are likely to see strong growth in the near future, including disaster recovery, high availability and dynamic capacity management.
Other typical virtualization uses include server consolidation and development and testing.
The company said it is ahead of XenSource with several new features, including multi-pathing for virtual server Ethernet and fiber-channel networks, which should support better continuity and redundancy; a virtual server snapshot feature for hot backup and patch management; and the ability to increase the size of disk groups and virtual disks on the fly.
Virtual Iron has also broadened its operating system support to include Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and Suse Linux Enterprise Server 10, and simplified the deployment of virtual server tools.
Other Virtual Iron services wrapped around Xen include live server migration from one physical machine to another, and recovery and capacity management tools. LiveProvisioning is an automated deployment feature which, the company said, eliminates the need for physical installation or management of the software on virtualized servers.
XenSource also offers live migration, but added the feature relatively recently.
IDC is predicting significant growth for virtualization in cases such as high availability and disaster recovery, estimating that by 2010 they will account for more than 60 percent of server virtualization deployments.
Currently virtualization is often used in test environments, rather than in production, with high availability and disaster recovery making up 12 percent of deployments, IDC said.
Virtual Iron offers a bare-bones free version of its software for up to 12 virtual machines per physical machine.
The Enterprise Edition costs US$499 per socket and the Extended Enterprise Edition costs US$799 per socket.