Virtual Servers: the Battle is Joined


If you thought Amazon was the lone vendor out there selling virtual application server services, look again: two more companies are battling for the hearts, minds and server infrastructure of the people writing all those web based services web workers use.

Nirvanix – who woke up the jaded VCs at DEMO08 by taking a sledgehammer to a server – has announced a 30 day “fee holiday” for customers who want to upload their virtualized servers to Nirvanix’s network, especially if they’ve been running that server on Amazon S3. Just to hammer in the point, Nirvanix has also released a “Amazon S3 Migration Tool” that will let you move your server image while maintaining your folder structure.

Meanwhile, back in the land of colos, server blades and huge monthly electricity bills, Rackspace quietly launched Mosso in February, its $100/month for virtualized Linux and Windows servers. Mosso is hoping its simplified pricing structure and parent company’s reputation for fanatical support will win over IT departments looking for business solutions rather than raw technology like S3.

If you’re a microISV or startup, this heating up of the computing in the cloud market means the price of developing and running applications with large user bases and equally large server requirements is heading down. Further, it means a whole new range of applications are feasible and buildable. From virtual backup services to “whole life backup” applications–to enterprise-size reporting apps that exist for only a few hours a month then disappear.

And if you’re a web worker whose lost more than a few workdays due to server outages, the move to virtual servers by IT departments means hopefully fewer sick days for your company’s servers.



The virtual scene is really heating up – Mosso has some serious competition. One major provider you forgot to list is Engine Yard – they do a specialized rails hosting platform which is very much robust.

That being said, the Virtuals make it really easy to make a machine for a task – run it for a week and then close it down when it’s no longer necessary. It’s making short term CPU intensive tasks a lot easier without incurring the expense of a hardware farm.

Aaron Bailey

This article is slightly confusing on the Nirvanix point. You can’t “run that server” on Amazon S3 (that’d be EC2) nor does Nirvanix allow you to “upload their virtualized servers to Nirvanix’s network.” Both Nirvanix and Amazon S3 are storage engines (videos, images, large files) and can’t serve applications.

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