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Paula Rooney
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6 Virtualization Contenders

The virtualization market is red hot, and 2006 has been a banner year for a number of startups. Here are a half-dozen virtualization software contenders to watch.

The virtualization market is red hot, and solution providers are increasingly finding that VMware isn't the only game in town, since 2006 has been a banner year for a number of startups.

Heading the listing of virtualization up-and-comers is XenSource, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based commercial spinoff of the Xen open-source virtualization project. XenSource is considered a strong contender among VARs because of its support for Windows and Linux, its 100 percent channel model and endorsements from virtually all of the big vendors in the business, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Intel and even Microsoft.

Still, other ISVs with their own hypervisors and virtualization solutions are taking a swing at the fragmented yet expanding virtualization software space, which IDC expects to explode into a $15 billion market by 2009.

In the last half of 2006 alone, Parallels signed a distribution deal with Tech Data as the Renton, Wash.-based company readies a virtualization server with Windows, Macintosh and Linux support to complement its desktop offerings.

SWsoft, the Herndon, Va.-based maker of Linux and Windows-based Virtuozzo virtualization software, a favorite among service providers, grew a whopping 98 percent in 2005 and launched a significant channel program for VAR and integrators this past summer.

Meanwhile, the Xen-based platform of Virtual Iron, Lowell, Mass., will challenge VMware's data center virtualization. And on the small- and midsize-business front, the Virtual Access Suite by Reston, Va.-based Provision Networks focuses on application and desktop provisioning.

Finally, solution providers say that EverRun virtualization technology from Marathon Technologies, Littleton, Mass. -- considered what's next beyond clusters -- is strong for addressing high availability application challenges.

Search for more standout, channel-focused vendors in the CRN Emerging Vendors database.

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