Parallels builds on cloud leadership with new virtualization software

Parallels announces a bare-metal hypervisor, an update to its Virtuozzo Containers, and a new virtualization automation and management tool

Going back as far as 2005, Parallels has been talking about creating a bare-metal hypervisor platform within the company, and earlier this year, the company revealed more information about that very project, saying it was alive and well and going through a beta period. No longer a beta product in the making, Parallels has finally launched its hypervisor dream into reality, and the bare-metal hypervisor gets a jump-start by skipping the 1.0 version and going straight to the head of the class as Parallels Server 4 Bare Metal.

With it, the company now joins the ranks of VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, and Oracle into the Type-1 virtualization hypervisor market. The new release may bring Parallels into the Type-1 club, but what you may not know is that Parallels has already been heavily involved in another area that each of these other players are avidly trying to expand into: the cloud. Parallels currently supports more than 1 million cloud-based virtual environments in production, and with this new technology, it hopes to expand that number even further.

[ Parallels' new Mac bundle is designed to help PC Windows users make the transition over to Mac OS X | And Parallels also updated its Windows and Linux desktop virtualization application ]

Parallels Server 4 Bare Metal is derived from the hypervisor technology found in the Parallels Extreme Workstation and desktop hypervisors that have become quite popular, and it boasts a highly scalable architecture that supports up to 12 vCPUs, 64GB of virtual memory, 2TB of virtual hard disk, and up to 16 virtual NICs per virtual machine. For additional speed and performance enhancements, it takes advantage of several Intel-specific processor virtualization technologies such as Directed I/O, FlexPriority, Extended Page Tables and Virtual Processor Identification. Other features include virtual environment cloning, snapshots and automated snapshots, support for virtual machine templates, an image migration utility (P2V, P2C, C2V), and that all-important live migration feature.

But Parallels Server 4 Bare Metal is just one piece of the company's complete cloud story. Along with this new product announcement, the company also launched two other virtualization product updates at the same time: Parallels Virtuozzo Containers and Parallels Virtual Automation. The Parallels' cloud story really elevates itself when you combine the bare-metal hypervisor with the company's virtualization container solution and its management tools.

Parallels' OS virtualization software has proven to be quite popular with hosting companies and used in both public and private clouds. If you aren't familiar with OS virtualization or "containers," it dynamically partitions a single Windows or Linux operating system instance into fully isolated virtual environments so that dozens or hundreds of workloads can be safely run side-by-side on a single machine. Parallels Virtuozzo Containers 4.5 for Windows adds the following new enhancements and new features to the product line:

  • Adds support for the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 operating system (it can also co-exist with Microsoft Hyper-V)
  • Configures pools from logical CPUs and assigns containers to specific CPU pools
  • Enables virtual CPUs of a container to be dynamically assigned to different logical CPUs depending on the load
  • Virtual disks of a container can now be defragmented without the need to log in to the Container
  • Enhanced support for the Windows Server 2003 Microsoft Cluster Server (MSCS) clustering technology has been added
  • Adds third-party support for backup/recovery and security software
  • Enhanced the cloning of containers with applications installed
  • Can now configure the start order of Containers on the physical server boot by setting their startup priority
  • Added iSCSI and IPv6 support

To tie everything together, Parallels announced Virtual Automation 4.5 (previously known as Parallels Infrastructure Manager), which provides a centralized, single unified console for managing both virtualized servers and containers, as well as offers additional efficiency by automating the management of virtualization services. This delivery and lifecycle management tool was designed to allow administrators to quickly and easily bring new nodes online, provision and de-provision virtual environments, apply templates, monitor resource utilization, and create workflows for self-service management. It also provides:

  • Autodiscovery and registration of Parallels servers
  • Drill-down capabilities into each virtual environment
  • Summary listing of all software licensing for audit and compliance reporting
  • Identification of top resource consumers for fast problem identification
  • Real-time and historical statistics to quickly identify and diagnose trends
  • An API and SDK for customer extensions that include chargeback, accounting, and automation

"Parallels has developed these products specifically to enable public and private cloud services," said Serguei Beloussov, CEO of Parallels. "Our unique understanding of the importance of automation tools and the innovative approach of Parallels Virtuozzo Containers has made us the leader in virtualized services in the cloud and we're building on that with the flexibility of hypervisor technology in Parallels Server Bare Metal, automated by Parallels Virtual Automation. Now, private and public cloud services providers can take the server virtualization approach that most suits their needs with minimal financial and time investment."

If you are wondering about the cost for all of this technology, Parallels seems to understand that a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the solution for every business out there. Instead, the company is creating multiple versions for Parallels Server 4 Bare Metal: a small-business edition ($499 per server), a standard edition ($999 per server), and an advanced edition ($1,500 per CPU). With the advanced edition, companies can deploy what Parallels calls "cloud in a box," which allows users to take advantage of the tremendous scale provided by containers alongside the flexibility and power of a hypervisor. The advanced edition also includes Parallels Virtual Automation to manage both the physical and virtual environments of both Parallels Server 4 Bare Metal and Parallels Virtuozzo Containers.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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