VMware updates infrastructure suite; touts storage, patch automation

VMware on Monday announced plans for a new VMware Infrastructure release that will be available in the fourth quarter. The release was described by Bogomil Balkansky, senior director of product marketing, as "a minor release from a version perspective", but one with "a lot of new functionality.

VMware on Monday announced plans for a new VMware Infrastructure release that will be available in the fourth quarter.

The release was described by Bogomil Balkansky, senior director of product marketing, as "a minor release from a version perspective", but one with "a lot of new functionality."

Specifically, VMware's infrastructure suite will include the new VMware ESX Server 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5, which now are under versions 3.0 and 2.0, respectively.

The general idea behind this update is to increase automation in data centers as well as target smaller enterprises. VMware (all resources) announced a bevy of new features, but there are two that stick out.

The first is VMware's addition of Storage Vmotion. For servers, VMware's Vmotion (overview) allows IT administrators to migrate virtual machines from one server to another without downtime. Storage Vmotion uses the same concept and allows you to move disk files from one array to another.

Balkansky says Vmotion's big appeal--for both storage and servers--is that it eliminates planned downtime. Storage Vmotion works in environments where there is a shared storage architecture--essentially one data pool. Many virtualization customers use shared storage. Balansky also emphasized that Vmotion isn't a storage virtualization product. That emphasis isn't surprising since VMware doesn't want to compete with its parent, EMC.

The second addition of note to this VMware Infrastructure upgrade is a new Update Manager. This feature is designed to automate patching for VMware server hosts and virtual machines. For instance, a technology manager could create a baseline assumption to have every Windows machine patched to a certain level. Update Manager would then scan all virtual machines and patch the ones that weren't compliant, said Balansky.

A few other notable nuggets from the VMware update:

  • VMware is focusing on power consumption. The update has a feature called Distributed Power Management, which VMware describes as "experimental." This feature turns off servers not in use and reallocates computing power to other boxes to maintain service levels. For instance, a data center could shut down a percentage of its servers as employees left the office at 7 p.m.
  • VMware expanded the performance of its platform with more storage and networking choices--SATA local storage, 10 GB Ethernet and Infiniband--and increased support for both physical and virtual machines.

Pricing for the update will be revealed when VMware Infrastructure is generally available. It will be available in various flavors of VMware packages such as VMware ESX Server 3i, VMware Infrastructure 3 Foundation, VMware Infrastructure 3 Standard and VMware Infrastructure 3 Enterprise. Each addition is priced to appeal to various markets. New bundles called "Acceleration Kits" will also be created to woo smaller enterprises. Depending on the package, the prices range from $2,995 to $14,495.