Xen engine 3.3 released

On August 27th, the Xen engine version 3.3 was released on Xen.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

On August 27th, the Xen engine version 3.3 was released on Xen.org, the site that houses the open source Xen project. In the words of the organization, "Xen 3.3 includes enhancements that further advance its position as a fast, scalable, secure virtualization engine for the industry’s broadest range of server and PC chipsets - from super computers to PDAs." In other words, the key enhancements focused on performance and security.

Here's how Xen.org describes this release

Xen 3.3 offers a scalable virtualization engine that leverages a broad range of server and PC chipsets - from super computers to PDAs. It provides highly efficient virtualization for x64, IA64 and ARM-based platforms, and through close links with leading CPU and chipset vendors in the Xen project, Xen 3.3 supports the latest hardware virtualization enhancements, making Xen-based products a natural choice for the latest server, client and PDA hardware. Xen supports many-core CPU architectures, allowing dense consolidation of virtualized workloads on the latest CPUs as well as large numbers of virtual CPUs per virtual machine. With a full 64-bit address space, Xen can take advantage of massive amounts of physical memory, including new flash-memory based stores, and Xen’s memory ballooning features permit dynamic reallocation of memory between guest Virtual Machines (VMs), to guarantee performance, and permit greater density of VMs per server. Xen 3.3 now offers CPU portability to allow live relocation of VMs across different CPU feature sets, active power optimization, to reduce power consumption on Xen-based servers and maximize data center power savings, and significantly enhanced security.

Xen 3.3 also contains a wealth of new features contributed by vendors collaborating in the new Xen Client Initiative (XCI), a Xen.org community effort to accelerate and coordinate the development of fast, free, compatible embedded Xen hypervisors for laptops, PCs and PDAs. The XCI is targeting three use cases: using Xen to run “embedded IT” VMs that allow remote support, security and service of PCs through embedded IT applications without any impact on the user’s primary desktop OS; “instant on” applications that can be immediately available as separate VMs from the user’s primary desktop OS; and “application compatibility” VMs, which allow legacy PC applications to run as VMs, alongside the user’s primary desktop OS. XCI member companies are already shipping Xen client hypervisors embedded in chipsets, PCs and laptops.

Snapshot Analysis

This is an important event because Xen is at the heart of the virtual processing strategies of the following.

  • Citrix
  • All of the members of the Linux community (Red Hat and Novell/SUSE are prime examples here)
  • Virtual Iron
  • Hardware suppliers such as Fujitsu, Intel, Lenovo, Sun
  • Oracle
  • Startups focused on either desktop or server virtualization including companies such as Neocleus, Qumranet, etc.
  • Startups focused on creating management software for virtualized environments
  • Amazon Web Services

If we take Xen.org's word for it, the community includes 50 major IT vendors, 14 universities and developers from 12 countries.

I'm often asked if I think Microsoft or VMware is going to "win in the end." I always answer, "it's going to be an interesting race."

It appears that we're going to see an exciting firepower race between Microsoft, VMware and the Xen community. All of these players are investing heavily in bringing powerful solutions to market. In the end, the customer has the opportunity to win.

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