Sun Microsystems has begun an early access program for its xVM Server hypervisor, a key component of its nascent virtualisation product line.

The company also said it intends to make a publicly downloadable version available within a month approximately, according to a blog post by Steve Wilson, vice president of xVM at Sun.

Hypervisors allow users to run multiple operating systems on a single machine, providing benefits such as server consolidation. xVM Server supports Sun and non-Sun x86-x64 hardware, along with the Windows, Linux and Solaris operating systems. It represents the fourth and final of the initial products in Sun's virtualisation suite, joining the already released VirtualBox, used for lightweight desktop virtualisation; VDI, for managing large pools of virtual desktops; and xVM Ops Center, a data centre management console for both virtual and physical environments.

"The core hypervisor that is part of xVM Server has been available as part of Open Solaris for some time," but the product is "much more than a naked hypervisor," Wilson wrote. "Each copy of xVM Server includes an embedded web server that allows it to be managed remotely via a graphical user interface in a browser (on any OS you choose with no local software installed), or via a Web Services API."

Wilson's post goes on to give a tour of the product's use interface. "One of our goals for xVM Server is to give you the power of a true enterprise-class virtualisation solution, but also make it instantly familiar to people using tools like xVM VirtualBox," he wrote.

Companies in the financial services, manufacturing and government markets have signed up to start using xVM Server, according to Wilson. He did not name any of them.

Those interested in the early access program can find out more by emailing [email protected]