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VMware Eyes Enterprise, Microsoft

Quoting from Byte and Switch

With one eye on the enterprise and another on Microsoft's virtualization bid, EMC’s VMware unit rolled out its next-generation server virtualization and management platform today.

With VMware Infrastructure 3, consisting of upgrades to ESX Server and VirtualCenter and new modules integrated into several suites, VMware hopes to extend its market share lead in server virtualization and convince customers that Microsoft’s impending virtualization splash isn’t worth waiting for.

“We want to make virtualization something that is pervasively employed throughout the enterprise,” says Patrick Lin, VMware’s director of data center products.

The additions include:

  • Support for shared storage on iSCSI and NAS. ESX Server 3 allows users to virtualize storage on IP-based SAN and NAS systems. Previous ESX Server versions only supported Fibre Channel SANs and attached storage.

  • Virtual machines to four CPUs. Previous versions scaled to two CPUs only.

  • VMware Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS). This module lets users automatically move virtual machines from overloaded servers to servers with extra capacity.

  • VMware High Availability (HA). This module eliminates single points of failure by moving virtual machines from a failed server to other servers, where they are rebooted.

  • VMware Consolidated Backup. This module offloads backup to a centralized server, allowing the ESX Server to run more virtual machines.

    The new features are designed to allow VMware’s VirtualCenter manage up to three times as many hosts and virtual machines as the previous version.

    At least one customer, though, says DRS and iSCSI support are the most useful new features for him. "Resource pooling is probably the best thing for me," says David Siles, CTO for Kane County, Ill, and a beta tester for the new VMware software. "Before I deployed a virtual machine against a named host, so I had to pick one server. With DRS, I can take multiple servers and group them as a farm. VMware will self-manage the load and switch to another host better suited to run those servers."

    Siles, who runs EqualLogic IP and Network Appliance Fibre Channel SANs, also says native iSCSI support makes it easier to add iSCSI storage.

    "We’ve embraced iSCSI, so having that support baked in is a big driver for us," Siles reports. "Our Fibre Channel infrastructure is tapped out, and adding servers connected to Fibre Channel storage is cost prohibitive."

    An iSCSI initiator is preloaded into the new version of VMware and searches the network for a target, making it easier to provision software for IP SANs. ESX 3 also lets users store and access virtual files on a NAS device. For now it only works with NFS. VMware's Lin expects CIFS support will follow.

    VMware has also repackaged its software to stress the management of resources across the enterprise, rather than just to consolidate servers. Packages range from an entry-level offering including ESX Server with local or NAS storage and management for $1,000 for two processors to an enterprise package that includes all the new features and add-on modules for $5,750 for two processors.

    ...

    The ability to build virtualization into its operating system makes Microsoft the major threat to VMware’s early dominance in virtualization. However, the timing of Microsoft’s roadmap is less than overwhelming.

    “What Microsoft confirmed is that its native virtualization won't be ready for a while,” Haff says.

    Siles, a Softricity customer, thinks Microsoft made a good move by buying the startup, but it still has a long way to go. “Microsoft’s approach to virtualization is still a little off,” he says. “Bill Gates said at WinHEC it would be 180 days after Longhorn comes out and that’s a long way off in today’s world. I think Gates’ presentation was to stave off people from making their decision by telling them Microsoft’s version is coming.”

    Still, he believes Microsoft has a chance to hurt VMware if it does it right. “If they give it away for free with Longhorn and bake in support for virtualization that does a bare-metal boot, then VMware would have to give ESX away and make their money with professional services,” he explains. “But Microsoft’s virtualization is pie in the sky for now.”

  • Read the entire article, here.

    Published Monday, June 05, 2006 1:05 PM by David Marshall
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