Virtual Iron, the open source underdog to virtualisation industry leader VMware, has been chosen to join a Hewlett-Packard partnership programme.
Virtual Iron has been admitted into the HP Proliant Partner Programme and Bladesystem Solution Builder Programme, giving it access to HP's sales channel to sell its virtualisation software in HP servers.
HP is going to begin reselling Virtual Iron under its software licence and management solution programme, which has members including Microsoft, Oracle, Symantec. and VMware, says Mike Grandinetti, Virtual Iron's chief marketing officer.
HP Proliant rack and Bladesystem c-Class blade servers will be able to be shipped with Virtual Iron already installed on them.
By basing its virtualisation products on the open source Xen distribution for virtualisation, and by using channel partners for distribution, Virtual Iron can provide virtualisation support to customers at an average of just 20 percent of the cost of VMware, Grandinetti says.
Open source rivals like Virtual Iron, who give away the software and charge only for support, can put competitive pressure on the larger VMware by undercutting them on price, says Chris Wolf, an industry analyst with The Burton Group.
However, Virtual Iron's product is not as "robust" as is VMware's and large enterprises fully invested in VMware are unlikely to switch to another provider just because the price is lower, Wolf claims. But Virtual Iron and other open source virtualisation providers could make gains in the medium-sized market.
Virtualisation refers to technology that makes it possible to run multiple software applications and operating systems on one physical server, using more of that server's computing capacity. It also has applications in storage networks and other parts of an IT system.