VMware boosts vSphere for future in the cloud

VMware ups the numbers in its vSphere 4.1 update to its virtualisation platform, as it looks towards a future where hardware and software upgrades are no longer linked
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

VMware has launched version 4.1 of its vSphere virtualisation platform, adding new memory and virtual machine management capabilities as well as enhancements to existing functionality.

The company said that the new version, released on Monday, has better memory compression technology, deterministic input/output, and the ability to manage three times the number of virtual machines as the previous release.

"We see three areas where virtualisation and the cloud are affecting enterprise IT," Raghu Raghuram, VMware's general manager for virtualisation and cloud told ZDNet UK. "Infrastructure, applications platforms and end user computing. We're offering an evolutionary path from Windows to the cloud that works better with existing systems than our competition."

vSphere operates with clusters of physical computers, each cluster containing up to 32 machines. While vSphere 4.0 could manage around 1,200 virtual machines per cluster, the latest version can support up to 3,000. vCenter, the management system, can now control 15,000 virtual machines, three times as many as before.

Up to eight virtual machines can be simultaneously moved across physical machines — twice as many as before — with each migration happening up to five times faster. The company said that vSphere now uses memory compression to improve performance by up to 25 percent and increase virtual machine count.

Other improvements include adding quality of service controls to virtual input/output for networking and storage, which can be configured for different kinds of traffic and application according to policies and automatically applied to virtual machines.

VMware says that the new version of vSphere reflects a general move away from hardware-linked software upgrade cycles.

"For us, the cluster is the computer," Raghuram said. "CIOs who are looking at Windows 7 tell us that 'this is the last Windows'. With much better configuration, deployment and control of virtual applications and machines, the old model of having closely managed hardware becomes less interesting."

A new licensing structure will be introduced later in the year per virtual machine count rather than per physical machine, which the company said simplifies customer licensing calculations by allowing businesses to change hardware at will. Currently, vSphere 4.1 costs between $83 (£54) per physical processor for small and medium size business editions, to $3,495 (£2,306) per physical processor for enterprise edition. Actual UK pricing was not available at the time of writing.

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