VMware pulls trigger on vSphere 'cloud OS'

Starting Thursday, the software is available in six different packages

After eight months of hype VMware has finally delivered the update to its core virtualization platform, announcing Thursday that vSphere 4 is generally available worldwide.

The company first talked about its "virtual data center OS" last September at the VMworld show in Las Vegas. Earlier this year it christened the product vSphere and last month it was officially launched during a splashy event featuring John Chambers and Michael Dell.

Now the software is on sale. Starting Thursday customers can order any of the six different versions of vSphere, which range from an Essentials package for smaller businesses to an Enterprise Plus edition for large data centers. The software is also ready for download from VMware's Web site.

VSphere marks a big step forward from VMware Infrastructure 3, the company's existing product. VMware positions it as a "cloud operating system" that will allow companies to centrally manage servers, storage and networks in their data center as if they were one big computer.

The software includes updates to VMware's core hypervisor that should allow it to handle large databases and other more demanding applications. VSphere quadruples the amount of memory available to virtual machines, triples network throughput and doubles the maximum I/O operations to more than 200,000 per second, VMware says.

A new feature called VMware Fault Tolerance can create a live replica of an application on a different server that can be used in the event of a hardware failure. Also new is vStorage Thin Provisioning, which allows less physical storage to be allocated to a virtual machine, and Distributed Power Management, which can consolidate virtual machines onto fewer machines during periods of low usage.

VMware said it was releasing the software ahead of schedule, although it appears to be in line with its plans for a second quarter release. "I think they had June in mind so they're pushing out a little earlier than they expected," said Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf.

BayScribe, an Edgewater, Maryland, company that provides a dictation and transcription service for doctors, has been beta testing vSphere and will move it into production as soon as it can, said Steve Bonney, BayScribe's vice president of business development.

"By far the main reason we beta tested vSphere is for fault tolerance," he said. If its dictation system crashes because of a hardware failure, the fault tolerance allows doctors to keep dictating their notes without interruption, he said.

BayScribe has been using VMware's vMotion for its back-up, which creates a lag time when data is transferred between systems and requires doctors to hang up and dial in again if a system fails, he said.

Analysts say vSphere is important for VMware because it will help it maintain its technology lead over Citrix Systems and, especially, Microsoft, which recently entered the virtualization market with Hyper-V.

The basic virtualization capabilities are becoming commoditized, with all the vendors now offering their hypervisors for free, and VMware is trying to stay ahead with more sophisticated management capabilities.

It still has more to do, however. The company plans a further upgrade that will let companies transfer workloads between their own data centers and those of cloud service providers such as Terremark and Savvis. VMware still isn't saying when that product will be released.

vSphere starts at $166 per processor for the small business system and goes up to $3,495 for the Enterprise Plus version.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags vSpherecloud computingVMware

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?