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Could open source be the key to users' virtualization efforts? With Egenera announcing an OEM deal with XenSource today, analysts are predicting that VMware will be coming under increasing pressure from open source, although there is some skepticism how broadly the technology can be deployed. (See Egenera OEMs XenSource.)

XenSource, which was recently identified as one of Byte & Switch Top 10 startups, has already racked up a number of partners, including AMD, Intel, Novell, Red Hat, and an OEM deal with Cassatt. Back in July, the startup also inked a deal with Microsoft to work on interoperability between Xen-enabled Linux and Windows Longhorn.

"The 800-pound gorilla is VMware, but keep an eye on Xen," says StorageIO Group analyst Greg Schulz. "The market needs at least two alternatives," he adds, alluding to user concern about vendor lock-in. (See Users Search for Virtual Reality.)

These sentiments are echoed by Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "XenSource will be a much bigger player in 2007 -- the market will have a lot more choices than it does now," he says. p>

Under the terms of today's deal, Egenera will offer XenEnterprise, a commercial version of Xen's open-source hypervisor, within its PAN management software. This, according to Susan Davis, Egenera's vice president of marketing, will let users run multiple operating systems and applications on Egenera's blade technology.

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