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Linux, Virtuozzo top IDC virtualization report

Linux-based virtualization topped an IDC report on overall trends in virtualization for 2006. Expect Virtuozzo and Linux virtualization technologies to continue on that path into 2009.

Virtualization has been dominated thus far by the likes of VMware Inc., the market leader in x86 server virtualization, but a new report from analyst firm IDC shows that perception could be changing with the help of Linux.

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Virtualization-savvy enterprise IT managers with Linux in their data centers will note that the IDC report, titled Worldwide Virtual Machine Software 2005 Vendor Shares, September 2006, also showed that virtualization implementations on Linux had experienced the fastest growth from 2004 to 2005.

The growth in the Linux virtualization sector bodes well for technologies like Virtuozzo, which uses an operating system-level virtualization. With this technology, a single Linux or Windows OS instance can be partitioned into multiple virtual environments. The IDC report showed sales for Virtuozzo, a product of Herndon, Va.-based SWsoft, growing to the tune of 98% from 2005 to 2006. This was the fastest among all virtual vendors in the overall market for virtualization technology.

Instead of having one physical machine run multiple operating systems simultaneously -- as the virtual machine model used by VMware, Microsoft Virtual Server or Xen does -- Virtuozzo approaches virtualization by running a single OS kernel as its core and exporting that core functionality to various partitions on the host. Each of the partitions effectively becomes a standalone entity called a virtual private server, or VPS.

Once formed, every VPS has its own network address and set of login credentials, system processes and daemon services. Because the underlying operating system is always running, each VPS can be rebooted independently and data can be migrated from one virtual environment to another on a live host. This capacity is not possible with the virtual machine model and is one reason why Virtuozzo has the reputation for being a good choice for production servers working with live data and applications.

Overall, the virtualization industry is on the rise, with worldwide sales of virtualization software experiencing a 67% growth rate from 2004 to 2005, with revenue topping $560 million. IDC expects the virtualization market to grow to $15 billion worldwide by 2009.

"Virtual machines [are] a foundational technology to dynamic IT," said John Humphreys, analyst for IDC in Framingham, Mass. "Virtualization decouples the application from the underlying hardware and allows the customer to create service-oriented [architecture] and begin to manage services and employ policy-based automation to manage and deliver the underlying infrastructure."

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