Virtual Iron 4.2, Ready to Take On All Comers?

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

With the December release of Virtual Iron’s Version 4.2, has the product matured enough to challenge VMware’s dominance in the virtualization market?

Whenever the word "virtualization" is mentioned, most people immediately think of VMware’s well-known stable of products, but VMware isn’t the only game in town; other virtualization companies are waiting in the wings to steal some of VMware’s thunder. Case in point: upstart Virtual Iron has challenged VMware in the enterprise data center and by leveraging open standards and open-source products, Virtual Iron has become a viable alternative to VMware’s products.

Virtual Iron’s latest stab at VMware comes in the form of Version 4.2, which was released in December 2007. That latest revision to the company’s flagship product addresses several nagging complaints that users had with previous versions of the product.

The major improvements found in version 4.2 focus on speed, continuity and overall ease of use. Solution providers will find the product now offers support for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 (32-bit and 64-bit) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 (32-bit and 64-bit), which should make those looking for alternatives to Windows Server 200x quite happy. Version 4.2 followed Version 4, which offered major enhancements over versions 3.x.

Other major enhancements include:

  •  Multi-pathing for virtual server Ethernet and Fibre Channel networks to support business continuity and redundancy.
  • LiveSnapshot™ - virtual server snapshots for hot backup and patch management. These capabilities enable offloaded, space efficient and no-downtime backups on live virtual machines running in production environments and also reduce the time for virtual machine patching in development and test processes.
  • The ability to dynamically increase the size of both disk groups and virtual disks – providing increased storage on demand.

Virtual Iron version 4.2 comes in three flavors; a free version of the software supports up to 12 virtual machines on one physical machine, an Enterprise Edition, which costs $499 per socket, and an Extended Enterprise Version that costs $799 per socket.

Compared to some of the other virtualization vendors in the market, Virtual Iron is offering its Xen-based virtualization products at fire-sale prices. That is not to say that Virtual Iron version 4.2 can do everything that VMware, Cassatt, Egenera and Scalent Systems can do with their products, but Virtual Iron does cover the basics of server virtualization quite well.

What’s more, some of the new features are unique in the market and the other vendors will have to play some catch-up to trump Virtual Iron’s latest iteration.

Adopters will find setting up Virtual Iron straightforward; an included quick start guide speeds through the basic elements and offers valid recommendations when it comes to "networking" nodes and even covers basic concepts, such as network cabling. The idea here is to make it difficult for anyone who follows the documentation to muck up an installation.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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