VMware promises data center refresh with ESX 3i

The virtualization specialist opens its user conference with a slimmed-down server product update and a strategy to compete with Microsoft and Citrix.

Sabatelli also recounted a situation involving a recent hurricane threat near Iqor's Florida offices. He said that even though the company had to close down the offices, he was able to take the virtual machines out of the path of the hurricane and up to North Carolina.

"We flipped the switch overnight and had 80 agents working the next day in a new virtual environment, connected to the same desktops that they use on a daily basis," Sabatelli said. "We might have been down at least 48 hours if we hadn't done this and with damage it could have been down for 72 hours or longer. It turned out to be a success story and gained us more business in the long run."

Lee James, chief architect of data center platforms and virtualization at British Petroleum, has also become a big proponent of the virtualized infrastructure and the ESX hypervisor.

"If a server goes down on a rig, it means that somebody has to go out there, pick it up, fix it, and bring it back," James said. "One of the solutions we came up with was a computer in a box, so we can deliver out to these rigs and also deliver out to remote locations. It's a kind of a set top that has a couple of ESX servers in there, so if a machine goes down we can actually recover it, and this can be done either on-shore or by connecting back over to the rig."

And with the dramatic cost cutting opportunities aside, James said the real benefit of having the ESX servers is that it ultimately keeps his company's oil rig workers in communication.

"There is an f-word that's used in the oil industry that everybody hates and it's called fog," James said. "When you have an oil rig, if it's foggy, you just can't get out there. Sometimes you can have systems like Exchange systems down for a couple of days and it's already bad enough that these guys are stuck on a rig for two weeks, so virtualization has in effect enabled them to keep communication with the outside world."

Customers such as these who want to be the first to get their hands on the ESX Server 3i will have to look to Dell's virtualization server appliance, currently code-named Veso -- set to ship this November.

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Rafael Ruffolo

ComputerWorld Canada

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