With vSphere 6, VMware Gives Its Server Virtualization Cash Cow A Makeover

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VMware's first major update to its vSphere server virtualization software since 2011, unveiled Monday, shows that the vendor isn't going to let its flagship product become commoditized without a fight.

VMware has added its latest storage and management technologies to vSphere 6 in order to make it easier for customers to move workloads back and forth between their data centers and public clouds, CEO Pat Gelsinger said at a press conference in downtown San Francisco.

These include VSAN 6, VMware's latest update to a product that pools storage from server hard drives and makes it available to virtual machines; and Virtual Volumes, a new technology that performs a similar function with third-party storage arrays, which previously couldn't work with VMs.

Customers can use Virtual Volumes to define policies for how their VMs use storage, and VMware's software stack ensures that they're being followed, Gelsinger said.

[Related: VMware, Google Teaming Up To Go After Microsoft's Enterprise Cloud Customers]

VMware has signed up 29 vendors to support Virtual Volumes and "essentially all of the storage industry" will be delivering products in 2015, said Gelsinger.

Jeff Guenthner, director of solutions architecture at CMI, a Mill Valley, Calif.-based VMware partner, told CRN he thinks adding storage to vSphere is a logical next step in the product's evolution.

VMware acquired software-defined storage vendor Virsto in order to build more storage functions into its hypervisor, and now that's coming to fruition, according to Guenthner. "If VMware can push into that space and control the stack end-to-end, why wouldn't they do it?" he said.  

Meanwhile, VSphere 6 also comes with a new feature called Long Distance Live Migration, which customers can use to move running VMs and workloads between hosts across geographic regions.

At the event, Raghu Raghuram, general manager of VMware's Software-Defined Data Center unit, said this feature is aimed at customers that want to get a better handle on disaster recovery and planning.

Service providers will find Long Distance Live Migration to be particularly useful, and VMware is working on adding it to its vCloud Air public cloud, Raghuram said.

Charles Kanavel, CEO of The Kanavel Group, a San Jose, Calif.-based VMware partner, told CRN he thinks Long Distance Live Migration will appeal to hosting providers and large enterprises with geographically distributed data center architectures.

NEXT: VMware's First OpenStack Distribution Coming Soon

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