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By | Ashlee Vance 17th December 2006 09:10

Virtual Iron offers Windows by the slice

Free taste, pay for the whole pie

Virtual Iron has popped out a new release of its server virtualization software, adding support for Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Version 3.1 of the company's eponymous software shoots right at VMware's rival packages by allowing customers to manage both Windows and Linux. And it does so at the right price – free. Virtual Iron – a Jack Kerouac company – concedes a free license to customers using its software on a single four-socket (unlimited cores) server. You will, however, have to pay $499 per socket to manage groups of systems. So, you basically get the first taste gratis.

The start-up reckons that $499 per socket places it about 20 per cent cheaper than VMware's ESX Server.

VMware also offers a free download of its lower-end VMware Server product. So too does XenSource with its just released XenExpress, which lets customers manage a single virtual machine. You'll have to pay more for VMware's ESX Server product and XenEnterprise.

All of these products allow customers to run multiple copies of an operating system and/or different operating systems on the same, physical server.

VMware's runaway success in the x86 server virtualization market has forced all newcomers – XenSource, Virtual Iron, SWsoft, Microsoft and others – into awkward moves. Microsoft, for example, has shifted to give away its core virtualization product, support Linux and partner with the open source advocate XenSource.

The rise of server virtualization software – used for test and dev, server consolidation and to improve overall server usage – has been welcomed by a variety of companies. The likes of Intel and AMD see demand for such software driving interest in their multicore chips and architecture tweaks, while networking companies see the same software pushing the need for higher-bandwidth gear. ®

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