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Xen and VT cuts Windows hosting costs

Better virtualisation means cheaper dedicated Windows servers, claims ISP

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The cost of dedicated Windows server hosting is set to tumble, thanks to XenSource's support for Windows. That's the claim of UK service provider Memset, which has added Windows to its range of virtual servers.

Memset MD Kate Craig-Wood said that while her company already offers Linux virtual machines (VMs) hosted on Xen, its Intel VT (virtualisation technology) servers now let it offer Windows too - running Windows on Xen requires either Intel VT or AMD-V hardware.

She added that some ISPs employ user-mode Linux or virtualisation software such as Virtuozzo, which provides each user with a partitioned application space, not a complete virtual machine. This can get more customers on a server than Xen does, but at the expense of them sharing system resources, she said.

By contrast, Xen divvies up the hardware between the VMs, so each has its own dedicated slice of server. She added that while Xen has needed suitably modified versions of operating systems - and there wasn't one for Windows - VT removes that requirement.

"Most small business users don't need a whole machine, but they want a dedicated resource," she said. "Some are uncomfortable with the security aspects of shared hardware, for example, and applications such as PHP are easier to manage if you have your own machine.

"We have had to say to people that a dedicated Windows server will cost them £150 a month - now we can offer that for £40 or £50, including the Windows licence.

"Also, VMs are very scalable - you can just reboot them with more RAM and disk, or mirror the whole machine to another physical server or data centre, and you can have a mixture of VM sizes on one server."

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