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New Virtual Iron software helps data centers decrease power consumption

Virtual Iron's new version 4.4 includes a power management feature, LivePower, can move around virtual machines and power down underutilized servers to reduce data center power consumption.

Lowell, Mass.-based server virtualization software provider Virtual Iron Software Inc. has added power management capabilities into the latest version of its software, version 4.4.

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Virtual Iron version 4.4 now includes a feature called LivePower that automatically monitors virtual machine (VM) resource utilization and adjusts physical resources accordingly.

When there is excess CPU capacity on a Virtual Iron server, LivePower consolidates VMs onto fewer physical servers and shuts down idle physical servers, based on pre-defined policies. When CPU loads increase beyond pre-defined thresholds, LivePower turns physical servers back on and uses its LiveMigrate feature to move VMs back and re-balance server resources.

"Standard virtualization allows for power reduction, and we knew we could reduce power even more," said Chris Barclay, the director of product management at Virtual Iron.

VMware Inc. offers a similar feature called Distributed Power Manager, part of its VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) tool, that also monitors resource utilization and allocates available resources to VMs based on pre-defined rules. It uses VMware VMotion to move live VMs around as needed.

IDC analyst John Humphreys said that products like LivePower are another example of ways in which virtualization can help IT organizations save money. "The concept of being able to extend the life of the data center by consolidating and driving out operation costs by actively managing power are extremely powerful as customers go green -- mainly to save green."

But while the idea is appealing, it's still early days for these kinds of tools. "I do see LivePower and products like it being heavily experimented with by customers today," he said. "I see it as experimental, which means most companies are testing it on dev/test equipment before they move it into production. And if they do move it into production, it will be with nonmission-critical assets."

Like other vendors, Virtual Iron's new power management feature does not work on VMs from other vendors; it only works with Virtual Iron VMs. And as with any vendor, the move has to be Intel-to-Intel or AMD-to-AMD.

Rounding out the release
In addition to LivePower and LiveMigrate features, Virtual Iron's management software also includes LiveRecovery for disaster recovery and high availability, LiveCapacity for CPU resource load balancing, and LiveMaintenance for offline server maintenance without downtime.

Virtual Iron also announced support for Intel Dynamic Power Node Manager, which will monitor, report and control system power in Intel's next-generation platform, Nehalem, which is due out later this year.

Virtual Iron version 4.4 will be generally available later this month. Pricing for Virtual Iron is $799 per processor socket, and LivePower is included at no extra charge. New customers can get it as an integrated part of the product, and existing customers can get LivePower for free when they upgrade to Version 4.4.

In comparison, VMware DRS is included in VMware Infrastructure Enterprise edition and can be purchased as an add-on product to the Standard and Foundation editions.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer. And check out our Server Virtualization blog.

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