Virtual Iron Goes Green

Software vendor unveils LivePower and plots eco-friendly virtualization

August 12, 2008

3 Min Read
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Virtualization vendor Virtual Iron is playing up its green credentials today, touting the ability to streamline server power usage with the latest version of its software.

Version 4.4 of Virtual Irons eponymous software, launched this morning, contains a feature called LivePower which the vendor claims can make sense of users’ ongoing power problems.

”It’s another management capability that we’re bringing, and it’s really focused on power and cooling," says Tim Walsh, Virtual Iron’s director of corporate marketing, explaining that LivePower monitors whether server CPUs are being used efficiently. “When we see that there’s excess capacity on, for example, a server running at less than 10 percent utilization, we can live migrate the VMs on that server over to another physical server.”

By freeing up the first physical server, this machine can then be switched off, if necessary, saving much-needed power, according to the exec.

“Think of a test and development environment – I might have a lot of these servers that are running at very low utilization,” he explains. “I may have many servers running idle, but they are not powered off – LivePower lets you shut that server off for the night and automatically power the servers back up in the morning.”Version 4.4 of Virtual Iron’s software will be available later this month as a free upgrade to existing customers. Users deploying Virtual Iron for the first time will pay $799 per processor socket, which is the same pricing as Virtual Iron 4.3.

Despite all the noise, Virtual Iron has just one publicly announced customer for Virtual Iron 4.4, Cambridge, Mass.-based health care IT specialist NaviMedix, and is not the only virtualization vendor to go down the power management road. Rival VMware, for example, offers a similar capability within its Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) that was launched last year.

”In a way, we’re keeping up with the Joneses here,” admits Walsh, adding that Virtual Iron is targeting its wares at a different part of the market than the VMware behemoth.

Whereas VMware has a big enterprise focus, almost three quarters of Virtual Iron’s 2,000 customers are SMBs, a strategy which the vendor reiterated today.

“VMware is basically unchallenged in the large enterprise today; you’re not going to switch somebody off VMware in a large environment – we tried that,” says Walsh, explaining Virtual Iron’s decision to focus its resources on smaller firms. “But with SMBs there are still plenty of opportunities.”Spiraling power costs have been an ongoing challenge for users, and firms have struggled, in particular, to work out the actual energy requirements of their server and storage gear.

An EPA report, released last year, revealed that U.S. data centers could shave up to $4.4 billion off their overall electricity costs and highlighted virtualization as one way for users to tackle the problem.

Another enhancement in Virtual Iron 4.4 is support for Intel’s Dynamic Node Manager, a technology for monitoring server power consumption which will be unveiled at the chip giant’s developer event in San Francisco later this month.

”Intel can monitor the power consumption of a server and set target ranges,” says Walsh. “LivePower will be able to take information from Node Manager and factor that into discussions about which servers should be turned on and off.”

At this stage, the LivePower feature manages power on server as opposed to storage CPUs, although Walsh admits that “this is probably something that the storage people need to do.”Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • Virtual Iron Software Inc.

  • VMware Inc.

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