SWsoft has announced the release of the beta version of Parallels Server, the company's server virtualisation hypervisor.

The company, which recently announced that it'll shortly change its moniker to Parallels, said the product will run multiple copies of Mac OS X Server v10.5 Leopard on a single machine, which it claimed is a first.

It's a move that some would see as skirting the core markets of virtualisation leader VMware, which has little traction among Mac users. However, the system, which is aimed at small and medium businesses and departments of large enterprises, also runs on any x86 32- or 64-bit Windows or Linux-based server, according to SWsoft.

The product can be installed in one of two modes. The first uses the Parallels hypervisor, in which virtual machines run in tandem with a primary operating system, and the second is bare metal, in which virtual machines run independently and are not dependent on a host operating system to function properly. Users can choose to load Parallels Server in lightweight hypervisor mode or bare-metal mode at installation.

SWsoft claimed that Parallels Server is the only virtualisation product to offer this choice of implementation at install time. It also claimed to offer support for any combination of more than 50 different guest operating systems including Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Red Hat Linux, SuSE Enterprise Linux, and Sun Solaris simultaneously in isolated virtual machines. The system will also run Mac OS X Server in a virtual machine, said the company.

Parallels Server also offers experimental support for Intel's second-generation virtualisation technology, Intel Virtualisation Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d), which can boost throughput and allows users to allocate hardware resources such as a second graphics or network card directly to a virtual machine.

SWsoft said that its virtualisation management tools will shortly be able to manage both Virtuozzo Containers and Parallels virtual machines.

"Hundreds of thousands of customers are using Parallels virtualisation software in their businesses and homes to get the most out of their Windows, Mac and Linux desktop computers and applications," said SWsoft CEO Serguei Beloussov. "Launching the Parallels Server beta is a key milestone in delivering on our vision of 'Optimised Computing' for servers and desktops across heterogeneous platforms."

Key features in the Parallels Server beta include:

  • Run over 50 x86 and x64 guest operating in virtual machines, and have the option to run virtual machines in the headless mode via a bare-metal hypervisor.

  • Run multiple copies of Mac OS X Server, Windows Server and Linux on the same Xserve.

  • Users running Parallels Server on Apple hardware also have the industry-first option to run Mac OS X Server in a virtual machine.

  • Remote control of the virtual machines via the Parallels Management Console.

  • Support for up to 64Gb of RAM on the host computer.

  • Support for x64 primary and guest OSes, as well as two-way SMP in virtual machines. The final release version will support up to four-way SMP, said SWsoft.

  • Multi-user access to the same virtual machine.

  • Support for ACPI in virtual machines.

  • Open, scriptable APIs for customised management.

  • Support for Intel VT-x, and experimental support for Intel VT-d.

    Beta Program Participation

    The company said it is accepting registrations for new beta testers - details here.