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vSphere 4.1 Flexes Muscles, Trims Costs

VMware introduced a souped-up version 4.1 of VMware vSphere, made it clear that the free ESXi Single Server Edition--renamed VMware vSphere Hypervisor--has supplanted ESX as the preferred hypervisor of choice, and said it has changed the licensing model for VMware vCenter management solutions by aligning licensing costs to the number of VMs under management.

Sounds like VMware is trying to dispel the notion that it is overly high-priced while continuing to hammer home the notion that it is leading the pack in cloud foundation infrastructures.

After trumpeting the results of a Forrester Research study that found 74 percent of virtualized servers in SMB environments are using VMware solutions, the company also announced that vMotion has been added to VMware vSphere 4.1 Essentials Plus and Standard editions, and that the price for vSphere 4.1 Essentials has been reduced.

Catering to large enterprises, but specifically service providers, The new vSphere 4.1 scalability enhancements doubles the capacity of compute resources in a single pool, and enables VMware vCenter Server to triple the number of VMs it can manage to 15,000. According to VMware VP of Product Marketing Bogomil Balkansky, "These enhancements matter to large customers, but particularly to service providers who may run millions of VMs."

Those service providers will also be glad to learn that v4.1 increases by a factor of five the speed of VM migrations, and supports up to eight live migrations per server pair, enabling 128 concurrent live migrations at any time in a cluster.
In another move that helps its customers economize, VMware endowed v4.1 with new memory compression technology under heavy load, "resulting in up to 25 percent better performance over previous implementations." Balkansky also noted that this memory compression adds 10-15 percent to consolidation ratios and reduces customers' cost per application.

vSphere 4.1 further takes advantage of new controls to dynamically allocate network and storage resources to VMs based on business priority. Balkansky says that without these controls, a "mundane workload" can block important database access and negatively impact Quality of Service guarantees. Finally, the company took the wraps off new storage APIs for array integration, increasing the "efficiency and performance of the platform in cloud environments."

VMware says the new VM licensing model for vCenter that bases costs on the number of VMs under management as opposed to physical hardware, is a byproduct of the increasing presence of virtualization and cloud computing in IT infrastructures. Balkansky says the scheme is user-friendly because rather than forcing them to license servers, it allows users of VMware Site Recovery Manager, for example, to "cherry pick" which VMs they would protect in their disaster recovery environments.

VMware vSphere 4.1 costs run from a low of $83 per processor up to $3,495 per processor depending on the environment. vCenter Application Discovery Manager and vCenter Configuration Manager are priced on a managed VM basis with typical base configurations starting at $50,000.

On the SMB side of the announcement ledger, VMware is singing to the choir with a new "lower price" for VMware vSphere 4.1 Essentials for businesses with fewer than 30 applications, and the new incarnation of the free VMware vSphere Hypervisor, which has increasingly become the heir apparent to the venerable ESX over recent months. VMware says "Essentials provides an all-in-one solution for small businesses for $495 for six processors, or $83 per processors." While SMBs are bound to welcome vSphere Hypervisor at the always popular, free-of-charge price point, veteran ESX users will probably keep mumbling under their breath for a while as they make the transition to the smaller footprint hypervisor.

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 07/13/2010 at 12:48 PM


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