IBM adds support to Xen and the latest SuSE Enterprise Linux release

* IBM backs Xen virtualization and Novell SuSE Linux Enterprise 10

IBM this week said it is getting behind Xen open source technology and Novell's forthcoming SuSE Linux Enterprise 10 platform, which incorporates the Xen code. IBM said it will support Xen open source virtualization software across all of its servers based on Intel and Opteron processors.

Xen is an open source project for running multiple operating systems - Windows, Unix, Linux, FreeBSD - on top of a single PC or server hardware platform. The technology is useful for users, individuals who need easy access to multiple types of computing environments - such as software programmers wiring code for different platforms.

What enterprises are most interested in about Xen is the ability to run multiple server instances on a single box - with the promise of eliminating the little knee-high forest of boxes, or the bakery racks of 1U servers that occupy some computer rooms. Xen is maintained by the company XenSource, which is led by the project's founder Ian Pratt, of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory.

IBM and Novell claim that users who deploy virtualized servers can increase server utilization by as much as 70%. (In networking terms, high utilization is usually a bad thing, signifying congestion; in servers, it's a good thing because it means all that CPU power you paid for is being put to use.) As a result, research firm IDC predicts the worldwide virtualization market to reach around $18 billion two years.

IBM says it will support Xen technology on its blade server platforms, as well as Xen virtualization on IBM's middleware products as well. The SuSE Enterprise Linux 10 support will go even farther than that, as IBM said it will support the new Linux platform on all of its hardware.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.