Storage Virtualization Strides On

XenSource makes another move to tie server and storage virtualization together

August 14, 2007

3 Min Read
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Storage virtualization has taken another leap forward with the announcement of 64-bit virtualization from XenSource today. (See XenSource Unveils XenEnterprise v4.)

The software vendor overhauled its flagship XenEnterprise offering today, adding a 64-bit hypervisor and enhanced support for storage virtualization. "It's really the current version of XenEnterprise on steroids," explains John Bara, XenSource's vice president of marketing.

At least one analyst feels the addition of a 64-bit hypervisor could spell good news for users. "I definitely think that it can boost performance of storage," says Chris Wolf, senior analyst at Burton Group, highlighting recent 64-bit announcements from the likes of DataCore, Asempra, and CommVault. (See DataCore Software, DNS Partner, DataCore Intros 6.0, Basler Uses DataCore, and CommVault Embraces Microsoft.)

Virtualization giant VMware currently offers a hybrid 64-bit hypervisor, which is essentially a 32-bit hypervisor that can load onto a 64-bit system. "Everyone is really heading down the road to a 64-bit hypervisor," says Wolf, adding that true 64-bit hypervisors offer a greater degree of scalability to users. "There's no magic that needs to be done to get it to scale up to the 64-bit hardware."

Today XenSource also added a feature called Resource Pools to XenEnterprise, effectively adding more flesh to the bones of its recently announced storage virtualization strategy. (See Symantec Drifts Into Xen.)Last month XenSource signed an OEM to embed Symantec's Storage Foundation product line, which includes its Volume Manager software, into XenEnterprise. (See XenSource Signs Symantec OEM and EMC Still Rules VMware.) In the fourth quarter, Volume Manager will run on the device driver software that sits on top of the XenSource hypervisor, controlling workloads on both virtual servers and storage.

In a nutshell, Resource Pools converts physical storage devices into virtual machines. "This ties back to the Symantec agreement, it's around shared storage," says Bara. "It gives the end user the ability to simultaneously add large amounts of resource to a virtual environment."

Despite VMware's status as a virtualization pioneer, Wolf feels that XenSource has effectively stolen a march on its rival with its recent announcements. "XenSource is the first out of the gate in terms of getting the storage virtualization right into the hypervisor," he says, explaining that this represents a clear shot across of the bows of rival vendors. (See Storage Software Grows, Symantec Launches Storage United, XenSource Unveils 3.2, and XenSource Exceeds 500 Customers.)

VMware was unavailable for comment today, although it seems likely that the vendor is fleshing out its own storage virtualization strategy. "I think that we're going to hear something from VMware on that soon," says Wolf. "Several organizations have voiced their concern to them in that regard."

Pricing for version 4 of XenEnterprise, which will be available later this month, starts at $1,599 for an annual subscription on a dual socket server. Pricing for a perpetual license starts at $2,499.Today's announcement is yet another example of the converging worlds of storage and server virtualization. Recent months have seen HBA vendors look to tie the two technologies together, while XenSource and rival Virtual Iron have already added iSCSI support to their software. (See XenSource Reveals Upgrade, Virtual Iron Dangles iSCSI Savings, Virtual HBAs Hitch Servers & Storage, 3Leaf Teams With Emulex, and QLogic Sets Record With SANblade.)

Virtual Iron also announced a joint marketing deal with SAN specialist Compellent last month, while Sanbolic and Tout Virtual have been busy bolstering their Microsoft virtualization stories. (See Compellent, Virtual Iron Team, Storage Virtualization Edges On, Sanbolic Simplifies Virtual Server, and ToutVirtual Offered With Microsoft.)

  • Compellent Technologies Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX)

  • Forrester Research Inc.

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Sanbolic Inc.

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Virtual Iron Software Inc.

  • VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)

  • XenSource Inc.

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