VMware Discusses Plans for Virtualization Offerings

VMware this week unveiled the feature set for the next versions of two of its flagship virtualization products in an announcement that coincided with its annual conference being held in Las Vegas.

VMware is in the early stages of testing upgraded versions of its virtualization server and virtual infrastructure management product designed to simplify infrastructure management and maintain quality of service guarantees for virtualized environments.

In ESX Server 3 and VirtualCenter 2 the company has added support for what officials at Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware refer to as “distributed availability services” and “distributed resource scheduling.”

“Virtualization is not just about how you virtualize a single server, but also how you deploy it across a farm of servers,” says Brian Byun, VMware vice president of products.

Distributed availability services provide the ability to detect failed virtual machines and automatically restart them on alternate ESX Server hosts. Distributed availability services select a failover host that can honor the virtual machine’s resource allocations so that service level guarantees remain intact, VMware said in a statement.

“Distributed availability services is [similar to] clustering software without the cost and complexity of clustering,” says Byun. While it may not be as instantaneous as a cluster, “For the 85 to 90 percent of applications that customers don’t cluster today, this is a good solution,” he adds.

Meanwhile, distributed resource scheduling provides resource optimization by enabling IT managers to set up a self-managing compute cluster with built-in resource and load balancing. By continuously balancing virtual machine workloads across ESX Servers hosts, VMware claims usage rates of 80 percent and higher are achievable. Distributed availability services also detects when a server is saturated and migrates running VMs to other nodes, automatically.

In addition, ESX Server 3 includes broader support for newer dual-core processor hardware and adds NAS and iSCSI networked storage compatibility. Expanded virtual machine memory limits to 16 GBs, and new four-way Virtual SMP capabilities also help memory and processor-intensive server applications to run in virtual machines more efficiently.

The updated VirtualCenter 2 will scale up to control hundreds of hosts and thousands of virtual machines, and will provide enhanced usage reporting and security auditing features, the company says.

VMware ESX Server 3 and VMware VirtualCenter 2 are currently in limited beta testing. A public beta program will begin later this year and general release will follow in the first quarter of 2006.

The current Virtual Infrastructure Node (VIN) for ESX Server combines ESX Server with Virtual SMP and a VirtualCenter Agent and starts at $5,000. Current ESX Server, Virtual SMP, VirtualCenter and VMotion customers with active support and subscription contracts will be able to get upgrades for those products at no cost.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.