Parallels Server Goes Beta as SWsoft Hires Microsoft Uber-Techie
Published: January 16, 2008
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
Desktop and server virtualization software maker SWsoft, which is known for its virtual private server software known as Virtuozzo, revealed last year that it is also the owner of a desktop virtual machine partitioning software maker called Parallels. The two companies are having their product lines, marketing message, and Websites merged just as the long-awaited server implementation of Parallels for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS servers has gone into beta testing.
Back in September 2005, when Parallels had its own coming out party in the press and no one knew that it was controlled by SWsoft, the company had been expecting to get Parallels Enterprise Server, its server implementation, to market by the middle of 2006. Clearly the development for this product has taken longer than expected. But, because Parallels got an early jump on the Mac OS platform as it transitioned to Intel's X64 processors from IBM's and Motorola's PowerPC processors, Parallels has been able to make money with Parallels Desktop and Parallels Workstation and also get a piece of the Windows and Linux desktop virtualization action. The company has also been selling a line of disk and file management products for virtualized environments called Compressor to crunch disk capacity requirements and boost performance.
SWsoft proper has done a good job selling its Virtuozzo virtual private server software (which carves up soft partitions above the Windows or Linux operating system kernels and file systems to isolate applications) to enterprises and hosting companies, which have to manage lots of images and which do not necessarily like having to update the hundreds or thousands of operating systems that a virtual machine partitioning approach would require. (VM partitions isolate below the operating system kernel and file system level, and create what is in essence a virtualized, bare slice of hardware for individual operating systems to run on.) The beautiful thing is that one or many Virtuozzo containers, as virtual private servers are sometimes called, can be embedded inside of a virtual machine partition. The open source OpenVZ implementation of Virtuozzo, which is only available on Linux platforms, has been demonstrated running inside VMs created by the Xen hypervisor already, and Parallels Server will also sport this support.
Parallels Server can run on any 32-bit X86 or 64-bit X64 server. On the Apple Computer Xserve platform, Parallels Server is allows to support multiple virtual instances of Mac OS X Server 10.5, also known as Leopard Server, in virtual partitions, but Apple is restricting virtualized Leopard Server instances to its own hardware. So don't think you can go loading Leopard Server on any old X64 server (although there is technically no reason why it wouldn't work). The Xserves will be able to run Windows and Linux beside Leopard Server, however, much as Parallels Desktop allows this.
For other server iron, Parallels Server will support 50 different operating system variants and release levels, but the company called out Microsoft's current Windows Server 2003 and future Windows Server 2008 (also known as Longhorn Server), Red Hat's Enterprise Linux, Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, and Sun Microsystems' Solaris 10 as the key, strategic ones to support.
SWsoft said that while Parallels Sever does not require Intel's VT or Advanced Micro Devices' AMD-V hardware-assisted virtualization electronics to work, this can obviously make the Parallels hypervisor work a lot more efficiently. The beta software is also, claims SWsoft, the first hypervisor to have experimental support Intel's forth-coming Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O, or VT-d, electronics, which as the name suggests will assist in virtualizing I/O much as VT assisted in virtualizing processors and memory. The software already supports a tweaked version of VT that was changed to better support multicore processors, called VT-x.
The beta edition of Parallels Server supports up to 64 GB of main memory and virtual machine partitions with up to two processor cores in a single virtual machine image. The final version of the software will support up to four processor cores in a single VM.
In addition to announcing the merging of the Parallels and Virtuozzo brands and the two companies under the Parallels name at some point in the future, SWsoft also said this week that it has hired one of the big gun programmers at Microsoft to be a senior technical advisor. Mark Zbikowski, who left Microsoft in June 2006 after 25 years of hard-core programming for the software giant, is the advisor that SWsoft has been able to bring on board in an advisory capacity; Zbikowski is not working for the company as an employee, however, so don't get the wrong idea. Only two other employees have worked at Microsoft as long as Zbikowski, and they are named Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, so having him help out as Parallels chases the Windows virtualization space is obviously a good thing. Zbikowski worked on development of files systems and kernels for MS-DOS, OS/2, and Windows NT, among other things.
OpenVZ Project Embeds Virtual Private Servers in Xen Partitions
SWsoft Offers Turnkey Virtualization Starter Pack for Linux, Windows
SWsoft Distributes Virtuozzo Virtualization with SLES 10 Linux
Virtuozzo Users Get Microsoft Support
OpenVZ Project Virtualizes Linux on Power
Mandriva's Corporate Server 4.0 Comes to Market
Debian Project Weaves OpenVZ Virtualization into Its Distro
OpenVZ Project Gets Migration Feature, Supports Fedora Core 5
SWsoft Streamlines the Move from Physical to Virtual Windows Servers
OpenVZ Project Creates Templates for Debian Virtual Servers
OpenVZ Project Supports Virtualized Linux on Sun's Sparc T1 Chips
Parallels Joins the PC and Server Virtualization Fray
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