April 23, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

SWsoft adds cheaper intro to virtualization

SWsoft has released a smaller-scale, less expensive version of its Virtuozzo software in an effort to encourage new users of the virtualization product, the company plans to announce Wednesday.

Virtuozzo Enterprise Starter Pack, like its full-fledged alternative, divides a single instance of Linux or Windows into several somewhat independent containers, each with its own higher-level software. Its differences are that it costs less, runs on servers with a maximum of two processors, and limits customers to running a maximum of four virtual environments.

The starter pack cost is $1,198, including a year of "silver-level" support. The regular Virtuozzo costs $1,250 per processor socket.

Virtualization is a hot area as customers seek to consolidate work onto fewer servers, cutting energy and maintenance bills and in some cases leading to a more flexible computing infrastructure. When it comes to virtualization on mainstream x86 servers, the market leader is EMC subsidiary VMware, whose revenue in the first quarter grew 95 percent to $256 million.

SWsoft's approach consumes fewer system resources than that of VMware, whose virtual machines have their own operating systems, but it's less flexible in the sense that all the software must use the same version of the operating system. And in the case of Linux, it requires the operating systems' kernel be modified from the standard version that comes from a supplier such as Red Hat.

SWsoft is working on partnerships to assure customers its software isn't disruptive, though. Linux sellers approve of the lightweight virtualization employed by Virtuozzo and have expressed some enthusiasm for the open-source project at its foundation, OpenVZ. Virtuozzo is certified to work with some existing products, including IBM's DB2 database, and SWsoft sells an approved version of Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Server bundled with its software.

Among Virtuozzo customers are General Electric, Sony, CNN, America Online, Hilton Hotels, Credit Suisse Group, Intuit, Lucent Technologies, the Federal Aviation Administration, Moody's, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Lockheed Martin, Siemens, Cox Communications, Bertelsmann, the United States Congress, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Pennsylvania.

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