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New Virtual Iron CEO Tackles VMware and Citrix

Ed Walsh joined Virtual Iron today as the software maker's new CEO. Virtual Iron makes a hypervisor and virtualization management software. It's a direct competitor to VMware and Citrix (XenSource). Like XenSource, Virtual Iron's hypervisor is based on the open source Xen platform, but the company has built proprietary technology around the hypervisor to provide additional capabilities, such as live migration, simplified provisioning, and high availability in a virtualized data center.

One of Mr. Walsh's goals is to clarify the difference between the two Xen-based hypervisors. "The XenSource guys confuse it on purpose," he says. "When they say 'Xen was purchased,' they want the confusion there. Xen, as an open-source project, is still ongoing and independent."

Another goal is to ramp up Virtual Iron as a viable option in the enterprise data center. Standing in the way is VMware, the market's 900 pound gorilla.

"The world needs a functional equivalent and alternative," says Walsh. He says VMware's ESX platform is too expensive and too complex. "We'll focus on developing high-end features and functions and continue making it easier to use and afford."

He also plans to use technology partnerships with major software vendors to create a competing ecosystem that avoids VMware hegemony.

Walsh also believes the game is still wide open given the relatively low penetration of virtualization into the enterprise. "There's so much market opportunity here, the trend is unstoppable. There's so much room to run."

Of the major hypervisor providers, Virtual Iron is the only remaining independent. Founded in 2003, Virtual Iron has received $31.5 million in venture funding, including $3 million from SAP Ventures in May 2006. Other investors include Goldman Sachs, Intel Capital and Highland Ventures.

Prior to joining Virtual Iron, Mr. Walsh was VP and general manager of EMC's Information Management Software group. Mr. Walsh came to EMC when the company he previously led as CEO, Avamar Technologies, was acquired.

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