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A State of Xen: Virtualization from PDAs to Super Computers
Xen.org, the home of the open source Xen project, has announced the release of Xen® 3.3 engine, the latest version of the industrys leading open source hypervisor. The release is now available for download from the Xen.org community site and is the product of a distributed development effort by senior engineers from more than 50 leading hardware, software, and security vendors (see end of release for supporting comments from some of these vendors). Xen 3.3 includes enhancements that further advance its position as a fast, scalable, secure virtualization engine for the industrys broadest range of server and PC chipsets - from super computers to PDAs.

Since the first release of Xen in December 2005, Xen-based products have quickly gained market share, accounting for almost a fifth of servers virtualized to date.

The Xen.org community has made security and performance key criteria for the evolution of Xen, said Zeus Kerravala, SVP, Enterprise Research, Yankee Group. This has been a successful strategy, according to recent Yankee Group survey data showing Xens rapid growth.

The new Xen 3.3 release provides users with an array of advanced new features and designs to further improve overall performance of the hypervisor engine in mainstream enterprise computing environments. Intels continued contribution to the Xen project, for example, is driving parallel advances in hardware and software virtualization capabilities to ensure that Xen-based solutions take full advantage of next-generation microprocessor technologies. At Intel, we continue to enable Xen to take advantage of the advancements in Intel Virtualization Technologies and other platform capabilities, said Imad Sousou, Director of Intel Open Source Technology Center. Xen 3.3 is optimized for Intels next generation micro-architecture Nehalem features; enhanced power management, performance, I/O and networking features for building flexible resource management solutions in an energy-efficient data center.

Highest Performance and Lowest Cost for Large Data Centers

The Xen 3.3 engine offers best in class performance for both server and desktop workloads with the highest degree of multiplexing, providing users with the tools to achieve lower hardware costs per virtual machine, with the additional benefit of optimal power usage per server making it an ideal choice for large data center virtualization deployments. In addition, Xen utilizes both hardware and software techniques to enable it to virtualize both current and legacy operating systems with industry-leading performance. As a result, its architecture has significantly influenced the design of all modern operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Solaris, which gain performance and security from Xens groundbreaking para-virtualization approach. Xen is also superbly matched with leading x86 hardware features for virtualization, to support both legacy and future workloads.

Xen has become an open source industry standard for virtualization because it leads the industry in performance and support for leading server and PC systems, said Ian Pratt, creator of Xen and founder of Xen.org. Our open development model, support for industry standard management APIs and our open, active engagement with the security community to secure the hypervisor ensure that Xen continues to outclass proprietary hypervisors. Xen 3.3 further extends our communitys lead through significant performance, efficiency and security enhancements and through groundbreaking features for embedded Xen implementations on PCs, laptops and PDAs.

Xen has also become a standard infrastructure component in many of the largest and fastest-growing cloud service providers, and was recently awarded the prestigious InfoWorld 2008 Best of Open Source Software (BOSSIE) award for server virtualization.

From Super Computers to PDAs

Xen 3.3 offers a scalable virtualization engine that leverages a broad range of server and PC chipsets - from super computers to PDAs. It provides highly efficient virtualization for x64, IA64 and ARM-based platforms, and through close links with leading CPU and chipset vendors in the Xen project, Xen 3.3 supports the latest hardware virtualization enhancements, making Xen-based products a natural choice for the latest server, client and PDA hardware. Xen supports many-core CPU architectures, allowing dense consolidation of virtualized workloads on the latest CPUs as well as large numbers of virtual CPUs per virtual machine. With a full 64-bit address space, Xen can take advantage of massive amounts of physical memory, including new flash-memory based stores, and Xens memory ballooning features permit dynamic reallocation of memory between guest Virtual Machines (VMs), to guarantee performance, and permit greater density of VMs per server. Xen 3.3 now offers CPU portability to allow live relocation of VMs across different CPU feature sets, active power optimization, to reduce power consumption on Xen-based servers and maximize data center power savings, and significantly enhanced security.

Xen 3.3 also contains a wealth of new features contributed by vendors collaborating in the new Xen Client Initiative (XCI), a Xen.org community effort to accelerate and coordinate the development of fast, free, compatible embedded Xen hypervisors for laptops, PCs and PDAs. The XCI is targeting three use cases: using Xen to run embedded IT VMs that allow remote support, security and service of PCs through embedded IT applications without any impact on the users primary desktop OS; instant on applications that can be immediately available as separate VMs from the users primary desktop OS; and application compatibility VMs, which allow legacy PC applications to run as VMs, alongside the users primary desktop OS. XCI member companies are already shipping Xen client hypervisors embedded in chipsets, PCs and laptops.

A Vibrant and Growing Xen Community

Xen.org benefits from broad industry support in the development of the Xen hypervisor, with more than 50 major IT vendors, 14 universities and developers from 12 countries participating in the projects development effort. In addition to its growing development community, Xen-based solutions have been delivered to market by numerous vendors, including Amazon Web Services, Citrix, Fujitsu, Intel, Lenovo, Neocleus, Novell, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Virtual Iron, and are available as an embedded option at point of sale on most leading x86 server platforms.

By using the Xen hypervisor included in SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, our customers obtain real business value with better use of hardware and significant reductions in maintenance and licensing costs, said Holger Dyroff, vice president of outbound product management for SUSE Linux Enterprise, Novell. Novell plans to include the latest version of the Xen hypervisor in SUSE Linux Enterprise 11, which will feature support for cross-platform virtualization and quality of service for dynamic resources.

Availability

Xen 3.3 is available now. For more information, please visit www.xen.org.

Published Thursday, August 28, 2008 6:46 AM by David Marshall
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