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VMware Targets SMBs With New vSphere Pricing, Packaging

VMware is dropping the price of its entry-level vSphere 4.1 virtualization technology and including its vMotion technology in more advanced versions for free.

VMware repackaged its vSphere family of data center and cloud virtualization applications to help more SMBs adopt the technology and better compete with Microsoft's Hyper-V technology.

That repackaging includes permanently dropping the price of the entry-level version of its new VMware vSphere 4.1 virtualization platform and adding new capabilities to more advanced versions.

Getting the SMB makeover are vSphere Essentials, which includes vCenter management software, thin provisioning, update management and data protection APIs.

VMware Tuesday made permanent a promotion price for its vSphere Essentials. That price, $495, provides a license to use the technology in up to three physical servers, each with up to two processors. This compares to the original list price of $995.

VSphere Essentials Plus, which further includes data recovery and high-availability capabilities, now also includes VMware's vMotion function.

VMotion is the ability to migrate a virtual machine from one physical server to another without disrupting the operation of any applications running on that virtual machine. VMotion previously was only available in more advanced versions of vSphere.

Pricing for vSphere Essentials Plus with vMotion for the time being remains unchanged at $2,995 but is scheduled to rise to about $3,500 on Aug. 1.

A complete high-availability solution is important to SMBs, said Tim Stephan, senior director of product marketing for VMware. "An SMB may have only 30 to 40 applications, but if an application goes down, it can disrupt their entire business," Stephan said.

The addition of vMotion to vSphere Essentials Plus is a major move for SMBs and their solution providers as it provides a base on which a variety of other functions can be added, and forms a key differentiator against Microsoft's Hyper-V with Virtual Machine Manager, Stephan said.

Microsoft provides vMotion-like capabilities with its Hyper-V live migration function. VMotion, however, provides a number of capabilities not available with Hyper-V, Stephan said.

This includes the ability to migrate a virtual machine's disk files between physical servers; storage I/O controls, which allow customers to specify particular virtual machines as "VIPs" in order to give them priority access to storage resources; and network I/O controls, which gives customer-specified virtual machines access to priority network flows.

Hyper-V live migration furthermore allows the movement of only one virtual machine at a time, while vMotion can be used to migrate up to eight at a time, Stephan said.

Next: SMB The Big Opportunity For VMware

The changes come as VMware is looking to capture a larger share of the growing SMB market, said Carl Eschenbach, executive vice president of worldwide field operations at VMware.

SMBs are adopting virtualization at a faster pace than large enterprises, Eschenbach said. And those smaller companies often have a single CIO or IT administrator who can make the decision to adopt new technology, which presents opportunities for VMware's channel partners.

"We see the opportunities to reward our partners for helping us expand in this market," he said.

Any company with as few as two to five servers is a candidate for virtualization, Eschenbach said.

"Even if a company only has two to five servers today, they are probably underutilized," he said. "That company is ripe for server consolidation. This goes down to the very low end of the market."

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