VMware wants virtualization for all

The server software vendor hopes to increase adoption of the technology with freebies and collaboration with big market players.
Written by Jeanne Lim, Contributor

SINGAPORE--VMware is on a mission to bring virtualization to the masses, which the server software company deems to be not to far in the future.

Carl Eschenbach, executive vice president of VMware's worldwide field operations, believes that once companies start looking at virtualization, and move it to a testing and development environment, it will only be "a matter of time before the entire data center becomes virtualized".

Virtualization is the abstraction of computing resources such that they can be dynamically moved, and logically partitioned among different operating systems. The technique has always been available in mainframe environments, but in recent years, software companies such as Microsoft, VMware and XenSource, have been working in tandem with hardware makers to avail the technology on x86 servers.

VMware, a wholly-owned subsidiary of EMC, supplies the software that allows a single hardware system, such as a workstation or a server, to juggle a few "virtual" platforms, thus improving efficiency or utilization rates.

The software vendor has been ramping up efforts to increase adoption rates of virtualization among companies of all sizes and across all verticals, by offering free products for download. This includes the new VMWare Server, which is a free package that lets a computer run several operating systems simultaneously in partitions called virtual machines.

Speaking at a press briefing Wednesday, Eschenbach noted that more than 70 independent software vendors (ISVs) currently support and certify their applications to run inside VMware's virtual machine environment. "We want to expand that ecosystem around virtualization," he said.

To increase development efforts in the virtual appliance space, the company also announced a contest in February for developers to vie for the prizes totaling US$200,000 in the challenge.

Virtual appliances are pre-built, pre-configured and ready-to-run software applications, packaged within virtual machines. They can be run using VMware virtualization products.

According to Koh Eng Kheng, VMware's Asia South regional director, the deployment of virtualization in the Asia-Pacific region has been "extreme". He said that some of the Asia-Pacific headquarters of multinational companies, as well as smaller organizations, have implemented VMware's virtualization products.

To augment the company's efforts, Eschenbach revealed that VMware's "headcount has tripled" in the region over the past year but the executive declined to disclose exact numbers. Its customers in Asia include travel reservations systems company Abacus, Republic Polytechnic, and India's Bharat Petroleum.

Abacus for example, has implemented a full VMware virtual infrastructure from its desktops to its server environment using VMware Workstation, GSX Server, ESX Server, VMotion Node, SMP Node and Virtual Center.

It has about 60 virtual servers running on two servers with GSX Server licenses, and two servers running on ESX Server licenses. Over 100 developers and testers access these servers, both locally and remotely, to develop and test new applications and replicate customer desktop environments for product support.

Lim Lai Hock, director at Abacus' solutions division, told ZDNet Asia: "We saw significant improvements in using VMware virtual infrastructure software. We saved S$1 million (US$610,000) per year by consolidating 38 servers onto two VMware ESX servers."

"We also automated our testing processes, saving 40 man-hours per day, and cut server provisioning time from 12 hours to 30 minutes," Lim said.

This was a far cry from the days where Abacus faced a gargantuan challenge maintaining over 60 servers and 70 computers, which were spread over three rooms used for testing and troubleshooting software solutions, he added.

In separate news, VMware and Intel announced during the Intel Developer Forum, plans to build a new virtualization specification, provide expanded product support, and launch a global joint marketing campaign.

This comes just a month after VMware said its new VMware server will provide software support for Intel's Virtualization Technology (VT).

But Eschenbach said these announcements do not signal that VMware will be working only with Intel. The software vendor has also committed to a similar relationship with AMD to support its "Pacifica" virtualization technology when it debuts in the middle of the year, he said.

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