Novell, Intel team up on virtualisation improvement

Server virtualization has been a huge topic of consideration and discussion among IT operators looking to cut costs and reduce footprints. Although virtualization is usually promoted by developers as a largely painless decision, some resources on virtual servers have traditionally underperformed real iron, such as networking. Novell and Intel recently teamed up to make a significant enhancement to the open-source Xen virtualization system by designing a new network driver. The advance means that Windows Server 2000, 2003, and XP may run without alteration under Xen on a Linux host. A Novell spokesperson has been quoted saying the change should dramatically improve network performance and make it virtually indistinguishable from real hardware.

Patching guest operating systems in order to ensure smooth and stable performance under virtualization is not uncommon to the technology, and improving the performance of custom drivers is an area of continual research. "Intel has been working with the open source community to enable Linux virtualization solutions to take advantage of Intel Virtualization Technology, so that guest OS and applications can run unmodified," Doug Fisher, Intel vice president, said in a joint statement with Novell. "Getting Windows to run with Linux unmodified and vice versa will bring an immense confidence boost to IT managers in making decisions on corporate platform standardization and refresh."

The new network and block drivers have not yet been made widely available in productized form, but Novell indicates that it has begun shipping them to select customers and will integrate them into upcoming editions of SUSE Linux.