BMW is using the Xen para virtualisation tool in SuSE Linux Enterprise Server to run test and development production systems. The company has deployed Xen to replace its ageing PA-Risc, Sun Sparc and IBM Power 4/5 Unix server hardware with industry-standard PC servers.
The car maker worked with Novell to replace 1,400 Unix servers with Linux systems. It chose Xen over VMware because native products where the virtualisation is supported within the operating system are easier to maintain, according to Andreas Poeschel, IT specialist at BMW Group.
Novell takes care of any support issues and provides hardware drivers. Additionally, when Novell releases a new service pack, BMW does not have to wait for a third-party virtualisation product to support the service pack, since Xen will include support as standard.
BMW has chosen not to run its database servers on Xen, because the servers are restricted by physical I/O bandwidth, which means their performance is not improved on a virtual machine. Instead, Xen is used to run applications.