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VMware To Ship Three Virtual Infrastructure 3 Suites

VMware on Monday unveiled a $1,000 server for small and midsize businesses, integrated suites and a per-user pricing model as part of its third-generation virtualization platform. VMware also said its ESX Server 3.0 and VirtualCenter 2.0 upgrades will become generally available this month.

server virtualization

In addition, VMware said its much-anticipated ESX Server 3.0 and VirtualCenter 2.0 upgrades will become generally available this month. As part of the launch, the Palo Alto, Calif., company also announced new packaging and pricing models that address different market segments.

Customers will no longer have the option of buying those flagship products separately. ESX virtualization server and VirtualCenter virtualization management products are now melded in one product called Virtual Infrastructure 3, VMware said.

Virtual Infrastructure 3 is the core platform in three separate suites for SMBs and branch offices, as well as departments within corporations and data centers.

VMware Infrastructure Starter, a new offering for SMBs, retailers and companies with remote or branch offices, includes Virtual Infrastructure 3 and is priced at $1,000.

The mid-tier offering for departments, called VMware Infrastructure Standard, consists of Virtual Infrastructure 3, Virtual SMP support for enterprise workloads and VMware's Virtual Machine File System (VMFS) for enterprise storage. VMware Infrastructure Standard is priced at $3,750.

VMware's high-end offering, VMware Infrastructure Enterprise, is targeted at enterprise data centers. It includes all of the features in the standard edition, an enhanced VMotion engine and new services, such as VMware Distributed Resource Scheduling, VMware High Availability (formerly known as Distributed Availability Service) and VMware Consolidated Backup. VMware Infrastructure Enterprise costs $5,750.

ESX Server 1.0 made its debut in 2001 and introduced hardware partitioning and virtualization on bare-metal servers. The second-generation platform came out in 2003 and offered new management and mobility capabilities plus VMotion, which allows an application running in a virtual machine to be moved from one physical server to another. The third-generation platform that's due out this month will extend the virtualization paradigm from a single server to the data center, VMware executives said.

"What you're doing is taking an entire collection of infrastructure, servers and storage and virtualizing them together and treating it as one hardware pool," said Raghu Raghuram, vice president of platform products at VMware. "It's data center virtualization. That's the next step forward."

Raghuram said VMware's previous high-end bundle cost roughly $5,000, and the new high-end SKU--with new resource, availability and backup facilities--only costs an additional $750. He said the tiered offerings save customers money, although some partners said the unification of the two flagship products into one suite will force customers to buy the integrated package.

VMware also confirmed plans to institute a per-user pricing model for customers that use ESX to deploy enterprise hosted desktops. The company declined to specify the cost per desktop.

The full suite has eight components, and VMware said it has 3,000 partners and 20,000 customers that will be interested in the new features in all of those products. They include the expanded distributed file system with enterprise storage capabilities such as disk locking and volume management as well as a tripling in the number of virtual machines that can be supported and managed.

"We're very excited about many of the capabilities promised by version 3 of ESX Server, especially the ability to work with larger amounts of memory and the new capabilities for addressing NAS and iSCSI storage configurations," said Erik Josowitz, vice president of marketing at solution provider Surgient. "These and other changes will enable us to more flexibly serve our largest customers and to put more guest VMs [virtual machines] on our servers."

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