Service provider THUS has launched a hosted virtual server in the face of criticism from arch-rival Rackspace that “virtualisation is not yet ready for the big time, and is unlikely to save its users money.”

The company said the service is aimed at those running websites "with lots of content including user areas and other dynamic content."

According to THUS, its Demon Virtual Server provides the features and functionality of a dedicated server, and is aimed at companies that have outgrown their shared web hosting solution but are not quite ready to move on to a full, dedicated server.

THUS said the benefits of the service included flexibility that allows companies to benefit from sharing system resources while remaining independent of other users. Users can access a control centre which allows them to install their own software, configure and reboot the virtual server, as well as host multiple domains without the expense of multiple shared hosting accounts, according to THUS.

The company said it also offers domain hosting, security and server extras, data transfer, e-commerce and Internet access services, and web and application design services. Demon Virtual Server can be bought and auto-provisioned online, offers weekly and daily system back-up options, domain registration, digital certification, firewall security and unique name servers, and is priced from £300 per year.

Responding to the Rackspace's downplaying of virtual servers, spokesman Dan Cole said: "Virtual servers are suited to website and email hosting as these are less demanding on server hardware than other business applications."

"Stand-alone dedicated servers also have many single points of failure which are reduced considerably by virtualisation, so running a virtual web server is actually far more resilient than a dedicated server. And given the cheaper shared web hosting services are always provided on a clustered platform then it seems perverse to take a step up in functionality only to simultaneously step down the reliability," he said.