Virtual Iron updates software speed, reach

The new version is certified to work with AMD's Opteron processor and IBM's BladeCenter server, the company says.

Virtual Iron released version 2.0 of its software Monday, expanding several capabilities of a product designed to let software run either on a slice of a single server or across a group that appears to be a single machine.

The new version is certified to work with Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor and IBM's BladeCenter server, features requested by customers, said Mike Grandinetti, chief marketing officer.

"It's not radical overhaul of the core engine," Grandinetti said, but because its performance has been improved by a factor of 10, the company felt it merited a major version step up. Virtual Iron released version 1.0 in July.

The Lowell, Mass.-based company competes chiefly with EMC's VMware subsidiary as well as with the open-source Xen project and, eventually, virtualization software that Microsoft plans to build into Windows.

Virtual Iron, like Xen and Microsoft's forthcoming hypervisor, uses an approach called paravirtualization to break the hard link between operating system and underlying hardware. However, paravirtualization requires an operating system to be modified, unlike VMware's current approach.

Today, Virtual Iron sells its product with custom versions of Linux, but the company is working on partnerships with Red Hat and Novell's Suse Linux, the top two Linux sellers. "Certainly, customers living in the data center care bout being supported by key providers," Grandinetti said. "There is interest in having the support of distribution vendors and platform vendors."

For a starting price, Virtual Iron charges $50,000 to use its software on servers with as many as 32 processors collectively.

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