Open-source technology provider XenSource has introduced virtualization software designed to help enterprises manage the growing number of virtual server deployments in their data centers.
The XenOptimizer infrastructure-management technology includes the next-generation Xen 3.0 open-source software, which provides virtualization capabilities for Linux-based enterprise systems.
Virtualization is attractive to corporate customers in that it allows a system to run multiple operating systems simultaneously in separate containers, which in theory can help reduce operational costs.
The virtualization software and hardware markets are expanding at a rapid clip because such technology lets businesses aggregate applications so they can coexist on the same server.
With open-source Xen, customers can create virtual instances of an operating system that can be easily copied or transferred to a different computer.
Similar technologies on the market include VMware, Microsoft's Virtual Server, and IBM's Virtualization Engine, all of which can create an environment in which work is abstracted from the hardware, providing increased system scalability and reliability.
The move to virtualization is part of a major overhaul in enterprise I.T. infrastructure, which began with Web services, said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillet.
"The next significant step is server virtualization for x86 systems and Xen open-source technology for vendors like Red Hat and SuSE," he said.
It's only a matter of time before virtualization capabilities are commoditized, Gillet suggested, as vendors like Intel and AMD add their support. "So the battleground is shifting to management of virtual environments and organize their systems to use the hardware more efficiently."
A key concern at this point, said Gillet, is the ability to handle multiple copies of applications in virtual environments and to couple virtualization with data-center automation.
"Xen's offering is a first step toward meeting that goal, and they are in line with the trajectory of the marketplace," the analyst said. "Enterprises have to start thinking about how they will implement virtualization."
XenOptimizer essentially manages the transformation from physical to virtual infrastructure for the Linux data center with a "dashboard" for monitoring computer resources, including CPU, memory, network, and storage resources. It is currently available in beta form, with product launch scheduled for early 2006.