Virtual Iron bolsters server virtualization package

Virtualization package, Virtual Iron Version 3.1 to run on Windows and is reportedly 20 percent less expensive than VMware's

Virtual Iron is Monday expected to launch a version of its virtualization software that runs on Windows and is 20 percent less expensive than VMware's Virtual Infrastructure 3, according to company claims.

The company introduced Virtual Iron Version 3.1, a virtualization package based on Xen hypervisor technology, for US$499 per server socket. The new version includes support for 32- and 64-bit Windows servers and allows as much as 96GB of memory to be allocated for each virtual server. This compares to VMware's ESX Server support for 16GB per virtual server.

In addition the company announced a free perpetual version of its software for use on one four-socket or 16 processor x86 server. The company claims that a similar capability from VMware would cost the customer US$9,000 to US$12,000. Virtual Iron is also offering a 30-day free evaluation package for multiple server environments.

Virtual Iron Version 3.1 now also supports Intel quad-core Xeon processors, AMD's hardware assisted virtualization, as many as 80 virtual servers per physical server and improved importing and exporting of virtual server images for provisioning servers.

Geoff Shorter, IT infrastructure manager for the Charlotte Observer newspaper in North Carolina, tells a compelling story about his Virtual Iron deployment. Shorter is involved in migrating from Unix servers to Linux for three business-critical applications including an Oracle-based circulation database.

"We have been running VMware for a year and two months now and have had real good luck with virtualization," says Shorter, who has a three-year plan for virtualizing some 100 servers in his environment.

"Looking at that plan our CFO said he wanted to look at five-year total cost, he didn't want to just count in purchase price, but maintenance and continuing costs," Shorter says. VMware starts at US$5,750 per server license and then US$1,200 a year for maintenance.

"By the time you've gone six years you've spent US$12,000 or US$13,000 for VMware -- that's a lot of money for one server," Shorter says.

Because Xen Enterprise didn't run 64-bit Linux, Shorter looked at Virtual Iron. "Virtual Iron was half the cost of VMware," Shorter says. "We are running our circulation database on it and have seen very little performance loss."

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