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Virtualization minnow goes agnostic

Thinks broad and deep

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As everyone expected when server virtualization took off on x64 iron a few years back, the hypervisors that provide the ability to carve up a machine into multiple virtual machines have rapidly commoditized.

When you pay for a VM tool, you are getting all of the extra goodies, like live migration and backup and recovery, that hook into the hypervisor, as well as the ability to manage the VMs, whether they are turned on or mothballed.

Each of the key hypervisors has its companion management tool: VMware's ESX Server has VirtualCenter, Citrix Systems' XenServer has XenCenter, and Microsoft's Hyper-V has System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

A number of vendors have popped up to adapt management tools for physical servers to cope with specific virtual servers or have created tools that manage one or maybe two virtual environments. Think Vizioncore and PlateSpin, just to name two. And the monstrous management frameworks from IBM (Tivoli), Hewlett-Packard (OpenView), and CA (Unicenter) are also playing here.

A relatively small startup based in Carlsbad, California, called ToutVirtual, thinks that by being hypervisor agnostic with its VirtualIQ Pro tool it can get its share - and maybe more than its share - of the hypervisor management pie. VirtualIQ Pro has just came out in its third release and spans a large number of x64 hypervisors.

A taste for metal

ToutVirtual was founded by a bunch of serial entrepreneurs who had sold a web monitoring tool called eCritical to Quest Software back in 2003. With the cash in hand, company president Jess Marinez, chief technology officer Vipul Pabari, and chief strategy officer Bakul Mehta decided that server virtualization management was going to be a fruitful market in the future.

They founded ToutVirtual in 2005, and got the first release of the VirtualIQ Pro management tool out the door in the summer of 2006. It was noteworthy in that it allowed for the management of VMware's ESX Server type 1 (bare metal) hypervisor and its GSX Server type 2 hypervisor - which is hosted atop Windows or Linux - from within a single management console. This was something that VMware itself did not do, since it would prefer customers who wanted management tools to upgrade from GSX to ESX to get them.

With the second release of VirtualIQ Pro, ToutVirtual added support for Microsoft's Virtual Server hypervisor (type 2) as well as the Xen instance inside Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (similarly type 2).

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