The big beasts of the virtualization world will be going head-to-head at a new conference that launches in London in October.

The inaugural Virtualization Congress will take place at the ExCel Conference Centre in the UK capital's Docklands from October 14 to 16. Windows IT Pro is media sponsor. The event is the brainchild of Alessandro Perilli, publisher of Rome-based news website Virtualization.info which he founded five years ago.

Explaining his choice of location, Perilli says: "Although it is taking place in Europe, the Virtualization Congress was planned as a worldwide event with delegates coming from US and Japan, so we needed a well-connected, prestigious city. Also, the UK is absolutely the most active EMEA country for virtualization, so London seemed the perfect place to hold the stage."

The Italian IT analyst, who also specialises in security, describes the Virtualization Congress as an event for all those that need to figure out what is available on the market and which product best fits their needs.

"They can be CIOs/CTOs, IT managers or system architects," he says. "All of them will get a clear picture of what’s going on in the virtualization world and understand where to focus their interest. Each session is a keynote, but the speakers will talk about the challenges presented by a variety of business case scenarios, and will show how the products can address those challenges. So there’s little to know and a lot to see."

Day one of the event is dedicated to the IT industry channel. The Virtualization Congress then opens it doors to end-users for 20 sessions over two days. Seminars will feature speakers from Microsoft, VMware, HP, Quest, Citrix and ManageIQ, to name but a few.

Given that many of these companies are involved in what amounts to a virtualization war, how did Perilli convince them to share a stage?

"Each of these companies has its own conference to showcase its virtualization products," he says. "But it is precisely because they are in such harsh competition that customers want to see them competing on a neutral stage where they can be questioned about all kind of topics, from licensing to performance. VMware, Microsoft and Citrix are aware of this and were happy to accept the challenge."

The event also includes a competition for start-up companies that are planning to enter the virtualisation fray. The winners will get a chance to make a presentation about their proposed products to the event's delegates. Virtualisation.info will also broker a meeting with venture capital firm Sierra Ventures.

"The virtualization market is still pretty young," explains Perilli . "Side-by-side with the well-known vendors there’s a rich and growing ecosystem of small companies, some of them still in stealth mode. While these start-ups bring a lot of innovation to the industry, it is very hard for them to stand against giants like VMware and get some serious exposure. So we launched a contest: we are ready to offer a platform to two new firms that will show their products on stage for the first time. I think this is a win-win deal. Our attendees can see the latest cutting-edge technologies on the market, and the start-ups can get attention from potential customers, analysts and the press. We have 20 submissions so far and we are close to deciding the two winners."

Perilli puts the popularity of his Virtualization.info website down to its neutral stance. "After tracking the market for almost five years, I thought that was about time to arrange a neutral and unbiased conference as well," he says.

So who does such an unbiased commentator think will eventually win the virtualisation war? Although he says it's a tough call, Perilli does say: "VMware will certainly continue to have a strong leadership in the enterprise segment but Citrix is becoming a serious competitor there. Microsoft has good chances to win the SMB segment while Parallels still keeps the leadership for the Apple market. Other vendors like Virtual Iron, Novell, Red Hat, Sun, Oracle and Symantec are doing well but they still need to clearly define their virtualization strategy before getting out of their niches."

For further information and registration, see the Virtualization Congress website.