VMware Rolls Out VirtualCenter SMB Bundle

virtualization software

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization software vendor on Monday plans to release a $1,500 bundle for its free VMware Server that includes the VirtualCenter management platform, the ability to manage three physical hosts and unlimited enterprise-level support for 30 days.

The solution, which supports VMware Server on Windows and Linux, will give smaller customers an operating system-based virtualization platform for server consolidation, rapid application provisioning, centralized management, backup and disaster recovery.

VMware, a subsidiary of EMC, has been testing the VirtualCenter for VMware Server with resellers and corporate partner ASAP Software since July.

Cary Goldman, vice president of business development at ASAP Software, said ASAP has developed a multifaceted campaign targeting small and midsized businesses. He said the VMware bundle is aimed at businesses with roughly 25 to 100 PCs and one or two servers.

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Server consolidation and the ability to run more line-of-business applications without buying a new, dedicated server are key benefits, Goldman said.

For example, the solution would enable SMBs that use Salesforce.com to switch to Microsoft CRM or another in-house application and run it in a partition on a server adjacent to their Exchange server, he said.

VMware said provisioning a virtual machine with VirtualCenter is much faster than provisioning a physical server.

More than 1.2 million copies of VMware Server have been downloaded since it was made available in July, and 70 percent are SMBs, according to VMware.

Partners said it's a good entry-level offering for cost-conscious businesses that prefer to use the free VMware Server rather than the $5,000-plus VMware ESX server, which runs on bare metal.

"That's the key. ESX is a big nut to swallow for small businesses," said Marc Mangus, vice president of practice development at MTM Technologies, a Houston-based solution provider. "This is something new for VMWare outside their traditional sweet spot. I think it is all positive though, because it does allow smaller companies to run more software on less servers."

Steve Kaplan, president of AccessFlow, a Sacramento, Calif., solution provider, said virtualization is needed in the SMB market, but he wants to promote the more advanced VMware server that runs on bare metal.

"We only sell ESX server, so [VMware Server is] not of interest to us. We sell plenty of ESX to the SMB market," said Kaplan, whose company formed two years ago as a dedicated VMware partner. "I'm sure they will have a big sell to small business, but we want the full value. ESX is a bare metal [solution]. [VMware Server] rides on top of Linux or Windows and still has the underlying complexity of the OS you have to deal with."