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XenSource Steps Up The Competition On Eve Of VMware IPO

XenSource's latest creation of server resource pools gives it a management framework somewhat similar to VMware's Virtual Center.

Stepping up its effort to catch up with market leader VMware, XenSource said Monday it is adding features to XenEnterprise v4 that make it easier to provision and deploy Xen virtual machines.

VMware has a feature of its Virtual Infrastructure 3, VMotion, that allows an administrator to move a running virtual machine from one physical server to another. In XenEnterprise v4, XenSource has added XenMotion, with the ability to move running virtual machines across a server cluster.

XenSource says the live migration can take place over "server resource pools," or a cluster of servers with highly similar processors. The servers in the resource pool have been configured by XenEnterprise v4 automatically.

"Users can simply drop virtual machines on a resource pool and the pool assigns the right resources" to match the virtual machine's task, said Simon Crosby, CTO of XenSource.

XenSource's creation of server resource pools gives it a management framework somewhat similar to VMware's Virtual Center.

XenSource has a better approach to storage than VMware, according to Crosby. To be able to migrate virtual machines around, they must be accessing the same shared storage, regardless of physical server on which they reside. XenSource is using an open storage repository API, which Crosby said allows Xen users a greater number of storage options than VMware users.

Crosby said another XenSource advantage lies in its support for the 64-bit Xen hypervisor, which gives XenEnterprise a larger amount of addressable virtual memory than VMware's 32-bit ESX Server hypervisor. XenEnterprise has been tested and certified as capable of addressing 128 Gbytes, he said. By what Crosby describes as a "dastardly hack," VMware can double its addressable memory for ESX Server through its PAE extension from 32 Gbytes to 64 Gbytes.

Since many data centers are just getting started with virtual machines, the debate over who's got the bigger address space is somewhat academic. But XenSource timed its talking offensive on XenEnterprise v4 to the moment when VMware was prepared to launch its IPO initiative, expected to pull in $10.9 billion and make it more competitive as the virtualization market leader.

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