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The Price Of Virtualization

It's hard to beat free--a fact of life that's not lost on EMC's VMware unit, which this week is looking to seed the market for its virtualization software by giving away an enhanced version of its GSX Server, called VMware Server. VMware expects the move to increase the market for its VMotion and Virtual Center management tools. And, while VMware won't say so, it's also a way to counter XenSource's free, open-source virtualization software, which debuted in December.

"It's like giving away 2-day-old doughnuts," says Simon Crosby, CTO of XenSource, the company selling products around open-source Xen 3.0. Xen's virtual machines are faster because they feed instructions directly to the chip; those created by VMware Server rely on "software emulation of a chipset, which is why it's so slow," Crosby says.

Sniping aside, 2006 looks like a big year to see how much can be done with virtualization. Central Transport International is using GSX Server to consolidate 50 Intel servers on eight GSX-hosted machines, saving $250,000 a year, network administrator Craig Liess says. The bottom line: The software saves money, boosts utilization rates, and is about to become free.

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