The Virtualization Room

Nov 19 2007   2:54PM GMT

The Little Xengine That Could

Joseph Foran Profile: Joe Foran


As reported in a number of other places, Virtual Iron has been making some great deals lately. They’ve picked up a new CEO, received a large sum (13m) in their most recent round of financing, and have been releasing products fast enough to keep the buzz going even though some (including me) have questioned their viability in light of the Xen/Citrix merger. While there’s no clear word on VI’s strategy for dealing with the merger’s consquences to the codebase, it’s clear that they’re doing the rigjht thing – focussing less on the merger and more on continuing their campaign against VMware. Namely, they’ve been forging ahead with their partnership with Platespin. This partnership has interesting benefits – for those few unhappy VMware customers who are happy with virtualization but not with VMware itself, it’s quite easy to make the change to Virtual Iron VMs using Platespin. It also lends VI an enterprise-credibility because of Platespin’s pervasiveness in the enterprise P2V / V2P / P2P / V2V market.

Then there’s always the price-war Virtual Iron started with VMware. Virtual Iron is not kidding when they say their prices are 20% of the cost of VMware’s VI3 Enterprise. Couple this to the fact that VMware still can’t manage to get the SKU out for their Mid-Sized Acceleration Kit, and Virtual Iron has a strong chance of remaining a serious (if small) competitor to VMware over the long term. In the end, this can only be good for the consumer in the smaller enterprises that Virtual Iron targets. With the backing of Intel, AMD, Platespin, and the of OEM alliances VI has made (HP and IBM offer Virtual Iron and VMware on their hardware), Virtual Iron is looking strong in the face of all comers – Citrix and VMware included.

What about Viridian? I’m waiting on that… given what I think of Virtual Server (nice toy), Vista (insert expletives here), and Server 2k8 (hyper-hype), I’m not any near convinced that Microsoft will put out a real hypervisor to compete with VMware or Xen. Truthfully, I’m more interested in what Phoenix is doing… but that’s for another blog. Time will tell.

Is VMware a better product? Yes, it’s far more mature, and has a much greater support based,  it’s also not being limited the way Virtual Iron is by Xen’s requirement to have newer AMD or Intel virtualization-friendly CPUs to run Windows natively. I think real question is this – Is VMware a superior product? On that, I’d have to say no – the little Xengine That Could has caught up quickly, serves similar markets, and beats them on price.

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