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Virtualization Startups Gain Steam

The virtualization market is heating up. In news this week, Virtual Iron has clinched $3 million in new funding from German software giant SAP and fellow startup Marathon Technologies is fleshing out its product line.

Virtual Iron's cash infusion underlines the amount of interest in this space and comes just months after Intel Capital pumped $8.5 million into the vendor. SAP's investment brings the firm's total funding to $31.5 million since its founding in March 2003. (See Virtual Iron Boosted by Intel.)

Tim Walsh, Virtual Iron's director of corporate marketing, confirmed that Virtual Iron is reaping the benefits of SAP's deep pockets, although he refused to provide any additional details on the funding.

Virtual Iron is one of a growing roster of startups laying claim to controlling server resources regardless of the underlying hardware. In Virtual Iron's case, the claim is mainly one of scale: Unlike market leader VMware Inc., whose focus traditionally has been on partitioning individual servers, Virtual Iron's focus is on virtualization across multiple Intel-based servers. (See Virtual Iron Revises Platform.)

Another key difference between Virtual Iron and VMware is the former's commitment to para-virtualization, a technique for modifying operating systems to support virtualization (instead of introducing a separate operating system). (See Novell Supports Virtual Iron.) So far, VMware has been playing its para-virtualization cards close to its chest, suggesting the company may doubt end-user demand for the technology. (See VMware's Virtual Appetizer, and Virtual Doublespeak.)

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