10 start-ups to watch: Virtual Iron

The company offers Virtual Iron VFe, a software-based virtual computing environment that lets multiple independent physical servers be combined into a single scalable symmetric multiprocessing virtual computer.

Location: Acton, Mass.

What does the company offer? Virtual Iron VFe, a software-based virtual computing environment that lets multiple independent physical servers be combined into a single scalable symmetric multiprocessing virtual computer, due out this quarter.

How did the company get its start? Co-founded in March 2003 by storage veteran Scott Davis, most recently CTO at MangoSoft, and Alex Vasilevsky, who had been CTO at home media software vendor Ucentric Systems (acquired by Motorola). The pair wanted to bring virtualization capability to enterprise-size data centers .

How did the company get its name? Meant to illustrate the concept of virtualizing the iron - meaning, servers - in the data center.

How much funding does the company have? $20 million, including $12 million second round, closed in June 2004. Backers are Goldman Sachs, Highland Capital Partners and Matrix Partners.

Who's leading the company? Industry veteran John Thibault, who most recently was CEO of Convergent Networks.

Who's using the product? Unnamed organizations in aerospace, academics, biotech/pharmaceutical and financial services are beta-testing the product.

What makes this company worth watching? Today, VMware, an EMC company, controls the server virtualization market. But Microsoft , with its Connectix acquisition and Virtual Server plans, hopes to end VMware's dominance. Unlike Microsoft or even smaller competitior, SW-Soft, Virtual Iron's software is meant to create large, scalable virtual computers. VMware has Virtual SMP, which presently scales across two processors; the company plans this year to increase that capability to four processors. The company is addressing a gap in server virtualization - that of building large scalable symmetric multiprocessing servers from x86-based processor computers.

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