XenSource embraces Windows

The open source Xen virtualisation project will soon support Windows

XenSource, the company that manages the development of the Xen hypervisor and sells subscription and support services for it, was preparing last week to announce that the open source virtualisation technology can now run virtual machines.

XenSource is adding Windows support to the XenEnterprise product it debuted in August and is targeting it at the Windows mid-market, hoping to provide such users with an easy to use, less expensive alternative to VMware.

Windows support in XenEnterprise is expected to be generally available for Windows 2003 and Windows XP in December. XenSource plans to add Windows 2000 support in the first quarter of next year, XenSource executives say.

XenEnterprise for Windows includes features such as Xen and guest operating-system installers, tools to migrate physical systems into virtual machines and a wide range of management capabilities.

“This is a fully packaged and supported virtualisation platform that includes the Xen hypervisor and offers high performance for both Windows and Linux guests,” says John Bara, vice president of marketing at XenSource. “Automated installation and a management console is included ... The average Windows IT professional can get this up and running in ten minutes.”

XenSource executives concede that XenEnterprise doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of VMware, which introduced its broad VMware Infrastructure 3 package in June.

“There is a big gap in the market between VMware at the high end and some of the free stuff like Microsoft Virtual Server at the low end,” Bara says. “We’re looking to occupy that space with XenEnterprise and provide what we call volume virtualisation — virtualisation for the rest of us.”

Xen is tapping into the hardware-based virtualisation capabilities embedded into new chips from Intel and AMD to provide Windows support, says Simon Crosby, CTO at XenSource.

XenSource’s news follows a partnership announcement in July in which Microsoft and XenSource said they would work together to allow Xen-enabled Linux to interoperate with Microsoft’s Windows server virtualisation.

As a result, the next version of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn, will let customers move seamlessly between Windows- and Xen-based virtual machines, the companies say.

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