Open source virtualisation software specialist XenSource today announced general availability of the latest version of its commercial server virtualisation product featuring enhanced performance and broader hardware and OS support.
XenSource said it had significantly extended the reach of XenEnterprise 3.2, adding support for Windows 2000 and symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) support for Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP, which should allow Exchange and SQL Server virtual machines to scale and perform better.
Support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP1 guests has also been added, allowing unmodified installation with the full performance benefits of paravirtualisation.
In addition the company also claimed the new suite boasts improved security and performance, iSCSI support, and enhanced manageability in the form of new CPU, disk and network resource control, and the ability to suspend and resume virtual Windows machines. "Our new release offers enhanced features that provide broader guest OS choices and more powerful virtualisation management," summarised John Bara vice president of marketing, XenSource.
Another new feature that network admins would have called for in any virtualised OS deployments is VLAN trunk support for virtual bridges, an important addition allowing a single physical network adapter to behave as a multiple physical adapters through virtual LAN (VLAN) tagging. This allows firm’s routers the capability to offer services to any device whose subnet can be seen by through the VLAN trunk.
The new product is available for a free 30 day trial and prices start from $488 for an annual subscription license per dual socket server, and $750 perpetual license per dual socket server.
Roy Illsley of analysts Butler Group welcomed the enhancements claiming they were part of a wider trend amongst virtualisation technologies to offer full interoperability. "When you look at Microsoft and Novell [who recently signed a virtualisation interoperability deal] you can see the market is moving towards supporting multiple OS's, so this is a good move from XenSource even if it is a case of keeping up with the Jones'," he said. "The market is rapidly moving towards commodotisation and you'll soon be able to use a hypervisot to virtualise everything with anything."
He added that the open source Xen approach meant XenSource was well positioned for this commodotised market, while other proprietary vendors may have to climb the value chain to offer more virtualisation management services.
Separately, XenSource also claimed that its own performance comparison showed that XenEnterprise 3.2 "matches or outperforms" arch rival VMWare's commercial hypervisor, ESX Server 3.0.1, "in all but a couple of tests".
The report claimed that while ESX marginally outperforms XenEnterprise on compile time and Netperf TX, XenEnterprise outperforms ESX on the Passmark memory operations and provides similar scalability to ESX when additional virtual machines are added to the platform.
The report concluded that: "Given that we have not spent much time on optimising our product for traditional benchmarks we are pleased to see that there is essentially no difference between the two products."
Illsley argued that such benchmarks should be "taken with a pinch of salt" and observed that VMWare would undoubtedly be able to point to alternative figures that challenge XenSource's claims. "All benchmarking depends on what you benchmark," he said. "You'll never find someone using benchmarks to reveal they are worse than their competitor."
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