Server Heavies to Get VMware Inside

VMware announced Tuesday the upcoming availability of servers from a variety of manufacturers that will include a fully integrated preinstalled version of VMware’s virtualization software.

Within the next 60 days, Dell, Fujitsu Siemens, HP and IBM will begin shipping servers with the VMware ESX 3i hypervisor embedded, the company said.

The built-in virtualization software will enable businesses to hit the ground running and easily deploy the technology, according to Diane Greene, president and chief executive officer of VMware.

“Customers can now get VMware pre-integrated and pre-configured for the hardware platform of their choice for immediate standalone server consolidation. As customers want to expand their adoption and get more value from virtualization, they can upgrade from the ESX 3i hypervisor to VMware’s complete data center virtualization and management suite, VMware Infrastructure 3,” Greene said.

VMware’s deal with HP will see ESX 3i installed on 10 HP ProLiant server models, which will be available by the end of March. Virtualization certified Dell PowerEdge servers embedded with the software will follow shortly thereafter and begin shipping in early April.

Virtually Right Out of the Box

Virtualization software such as VMware’s ESX 3i hypervisor enables a single computer to take on the workload of multiple machines running several operating systems along with any accompanying software. This allows a single server to take on multiple tasks that previously had to be handled by many machines.

The benefit for businesses, particularly those with a large data center, is a reduction in the number of servers necessary to meet the company’s computing needs as well as significantly lower energy costs. Likewise, smaller organizations gain the ability to deploy multiple virtual servers without the cost outlay that would have been required prior to the advent of virtualization technology.

Based on VMware’s core virtualization technology, VMware ESX 3i hypervisor is 32 MB and is the only “OS (operating system)-independent virtualization platform,” according to the company. The software enables single-server consolidation with fast and easy deployment with the first virtual machine up and running within minutes of booting a server with pre-configured and optimized hardware configurations.

The embedded software offers automatic configuration capabilities that provide detection, discovery and intelligent-default configuration, with a menu-driven startup, according to VMware.

Buy the Server, Get the Hypervisor Free

The boon for customers purchasing servers with the embedded software is that they will receive a hypervisor for free, said John Humphreys, an analyst at IDC.

“What that will enable you to do is basic partitioning. You’ll be able to create virtual machines within that one server. What you won’t be able to do is have any of those advanced features VMware offers like migration, automatic restart. You won’t have virtual centers, so your management won’t be through some central console.”

That sort of functionality will require an upgrade to VMware’s Infrastructure 3, the company’s fully managed datacenter for virtualizing servers, storage, networks, applications and desktops. It’s designed to ensure IT servers are delivered when and where needed and optimized for cost and energy efficiency. An evaluation of the software is included with the preinstalled software.

Small companies will likely benefit the most from the embedded software, Humphreys told TechNewsWorld.

“If you’re a small business and really want to virtualize one server, OK, maybe that’s the way to go. But if you’re a large company and looking at virtualization as strategic to you, this might be a good way to acquire the technology, but then you’ll want to do the add-on for virtual center and the advanced features. Or, if your needs are basic, you might be able to get away with just that,” he pointed out.

“Either way, it is a good way to get exposure to virtualization inexpensively,” Humphreys continued.

Microsoft on Its Way

VMware is the market leader in virtualization, but it will soon face a growing threat for dominance from Microsoft.

This move, according to Humphreys, is a preemptive step to introduce its technology to companies that have not opted to virtualize their systems and familiarize them with VMware in an effort to increase their footprint before Microsoft releases its Hyper-V virtualization software set for release in June.

“One of the concerns is that customers would get Hyper-V with every OS they buy. So if they buy their OS directly from their server OEM they’ll get virtualization de facto from Microsoft. VMware needed a way to get footprints and compete with that,” Humphrey noted.

“VMware is the market leader but knows that Microsoft and others are chomping at its heels. This is absolutely a race for footprint,” he added.

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