September 14, 2007 9:23 AM PDT

Week in review: Vista, virtualization, vendettas

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The representative declined to speculate about whether the price cut caused a frenzy of iPhone buying from Wednesday to Sunday. However, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster was willing to estimate that Apple sold 27,000 iPhones a day following the price cut.

Apple will take its keynote show on the road to London next week, with speculation centered mostly on the carriers for a European iPhone. The company sent out invitations to a Tuesday press conference but didn't specify the topic. The company has previously said it wants to start selling iPhones in Europe by the end of the year.

Through all of this, AT&T is precariously straddling a line between partnering and competing with Apple in the mobile-music market.

AT&T's exclusive deal to sell Apple's iPhone for use on its network in the United States has been the envy of the wireless industry for more than nine months. But managing its own mobile-music strategy while working with a tight-lipped and controlling partner like Apple is proving to be a challenge for AT&T, particularly as the Mac maker launches new products and services that may compete with AT&T's own.

Like many partnerships in the tech industry, the Apple-AT&T combination is increasingly looking like "co-opetition," a term used to describe business partners that also compete.

Apple, of course, is no stranger to co-opetition. AT&T is learning that the blurring of self-interest and cooperation is the price of doing business with a fast-moving outfit like Apple.

Virtualization gets real
The VMware conference, VMWorld, focusing on all things virtualization, kicked off its San Francisco gathering with news that major virtualization companies are cooperating to bring some simplicity to the world of their mutual interest, the format used to save virtual-machine images to disk.

Cooperating in the effort are VMware, XenSource and Microsoft, which today have separate software for the task of running multiple virtual machines on one computer and separate formats for storing those virtual machines. That storage is an important part of tasks such as backing up data, installing fresh virtual machines from a template, or moving one quiescent virtual machine from one physical computer to another.

Major server companies Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM also are participating in the effort, which is taking place within a group called the Distributed Management Task Force that has standardized other server technologies as well.

Parallels, an SWsoft subsidiary whose claim to fame is virtualization software that enables Mac OS X users to run Windows programs, is making the jump to the server. The new Parallels Server software currently is in alpha testing but will be open to beta testers in four to six weeks, said Benjamin Rudolph, communications director for Parallels.

But does the world need another hypervisor, the virtualization foundation that gives a single computer the ability to run multiple operating systems in separate compartments, called virtual machines? Rudolph thinks so. The company will aim initially at small and midsize companies that don't fool with virtualization today, and he hopes to expand from there. For those customers, he said, "Xen is just too complicated. VMware is just too much."

Meanwhile, VMware has some new ideas for tackling an age-old problem for system administrators: how do you keep a computing service available when the server it's running on fails?

The company's chief scientist and co-founder, Mendel Rosenblum, demonstrated two servers running e-mail software in lockstep in a speech at VMware's VMworld conference here Thursday. Through a new twist on VMware's virtualization technology, he unplugged the primary machine, and the second took over exactly where the first left off, after a couple of heartbeats' delay.

Specialized hardware and software provide high availability today, but Rosenblum said virtualization promises to make the technology more ordinary. "The cool thing (is) that this works with any workload," he said.

Also of note
Advanced Micro Devices formally unveiled Barcelona, AMD's first quad-core server processor, during an event spread over two buildings in San Francisco's Presidio...Google is sponsoring the Google Lunar X Prize, a robotic race to the moon, with a purse of $30 million...A nuclear-power plant hasn't been built in the United States in decades, but that appears to be changing, says the CEO of the nuclear industry's advocacy group.

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