Release: Virtual Iron 3.1

Virtual Iron launches today the new, expected release of its virtualization platform, based on the Xen open source hypervisor since version 3.0.

This new release introduces very interesting features:

  • Support for Intel Xeon 5300 series (Quad Core) with Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT)
  • Support for Microsoft Windows guest OS
  • Support for up to 80 virtual servers per physical server
  • Support for up to 16 virtual CPUs and 96GB RAM per single virtual machine

A notable changes appeared on licensing: Virtual Iron 3.0 was available in three editions, Community (free, with GPL), Professional (free and limited, with GPL) and Enterprise, while the new Virtual Iron 3.1 only has the Enterprise edition (with a free evaluation period of 30days) and only one free and limited variant: the Free Single-Server Virtualization and Management (free perpetual license up to 4 sockets, unlimited cores).

Also pricing model changed passing from the old $1,500 price per physical server to $499 per socket.

InfoWorld published a brief preview of this new version with following comment:

So what’s lacking? Polish, performance, and the little bits around the edges. The console interaction provided by Virtual Iron 3.1 is fair for Windows guests, but quite sloppy for Linux guests running X11. This is rather surprising, but mouse tracking under Windows is far superior. Of course, most Linux guests won’t be running X11, which mitigates this problem somewhat.

Also missing is VM snapshot support, as well as basic backup tools. Coupled with the lack of iSCSI and NFS support, very basic network configurations, questionable I/O performance, and the obvious wet-behind-the-ears feel of the package, it may be a bit of a hard sell for production use.

But then, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I believe that the lack of these features is more reflective of “haven’t gotten there yet” rather than “won’t get there,” and it certainly seems that Virtual Iron is well on its way to becoming a true competitor in the virtualization world. If the next release – slated for first quarter 2007 – manages to address these issues, the company may find that market open wide, especially because at $499 per processor, a full Virtual Iron 3.1 license costs a fraction of a comparable VMware license.

From this point, raw edges or not, Virtual Iron becomes a viable alternatives to VMware and Microsoft virtualization platforms in some environments. Customers will start demanding for comparisons.

The Virtualization Industry Roadmap has been updated accordingly.