Virtual Iron short review

Exclusive: Virtual enlightenment through Xen

Moreover, Virtual Iron extends Xen by enhancing memory management to allow 32-bit and 64-bit guests to run side-by-side, full virtualization to allow guest OSes to run completely unmodified (the current Xen release requires the guest OSes to be modified to run in a Xen environment), and significant work to increase I/O performance of guest OSes. These features will be present in the forthcoming Xen 3.1 release, but Virtual Iron is offering them now, with the GUI management tools.

On the downside, there’s no iSCSI SAN or NFS support, so if you’re lacking a Fiber Channel SAN, you’re forced to use local disk, and this precludes the use of the LiveMigration, LiveRecovery, and LiveMaintenance features.

So what’s lacking? Polish, performance, and the little bits around the edges. The console interaction provided by Virtual Iron 3.1 is fair for Windows guests, but quite sloppy for Linux guests running X11. This is rather surprising, but mouse tracking under Windows is far superior. Of course, most Linux guests won’t be running X11, which mitigates this problem somewhat.

Also missing is VM snapshot support, as well as basic backup tools. Coupled with the lack of iSCSI and NFS support, very basic network configurations, questionable I/O performance, and the obvious wet-behind-the-ears feel of the package, it may be a bit of a hard sell for production use.

Also looks like Virtual Iron lacks vlan support at the moment. Lack of this and iSCSI/NFS restricting shared storage to Fibre is going to cut out a lot of potential users. Especially in the SMB market. Its strange as there storage subsystem seems like its layered on top of LVM with Microsoft based VHD files in logical volumes (LV). You would think that it was easy enough to engineer iSCSI by replacing the Fibre device blocks with iSCSI device blocks on the processing nodes.

Without the LiveMigration support Virtual Iron isn’t really that much better than Xen. They will also have to increase their systems supported coverage for Linux to Debian/Ubuntu for both there management and vmtools.

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