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Using VMware Go to Virtualize Servers Gratis
VMware Go is a free, Web-based product initially released at VMworld 2009. Designed by VMware partner Shavlik Technologies, Go is really an "enabler" designed make virtualization with VMware easier for new users. With VMware releasing a new version of Go, let me take this opportunity for a quick overview and education on the new features.
What Can VMware Go Do for You?
While VMware is known for large enterprise products, Go isn't designed for large enterprises or anyone already using a paid version of vSphere. The target market for Go is the small business and Windows administrators who are skittish about running any operating system other than Windows Server on their servers.
Go will analyze existing Windows Servers on your network to see if they're compatible with the VMware Hardware Compatibility List. Even if they aren't on that list, Go will tell you if that server can run VMware ESXi.
In addition, Go will download the ESXi installation media and burn it to a DVD for you, which is amazing for a Web-based product. The installation process of ESXi is fast, and it's different from a Windows Server install. Once installed, Go will help you configure the server.
Virtualizing with VMware Go
With ESXi installed, Go can help you create virtual machines (VMs) in three ways:
- Create a new VM and install a fresh guest OS.
- Create a new VM and perform a physical-to-virtual conversion using the free VMware Converter that Go will download and install for you.
- Download virtual appliances directly from the virtual appliance marketplace.
Once the servers are up and running, Go can help you manage them with basic reports and console access. Of course, you're always free to install the vSphere client for additional management capabilities.
One of my favorite features of Go is the ability to perform an automatic upgrade of VMware ESXi servers. Besides the admin needing to manage the power-down of any VMs (ESXi free isn't going to do VMotion with running VMs), the upgrade process is automatic.
Additionally, Go can scan all Windows-based VMs and alert you to any patches that need to be applied to the OS or major applications (but it won't automatically upgrade them).
[Click on image for larger view.]
|VMware Go analyzes Windows Servers to see if they're compatible with the VMware Hardware Compatibility List.|
Recently, VMware released a new version of Go that vastly improved the UI and added the ability to directly download VMware-approved virtual appliances from the Internet to your ESXi server. Previously, you'd have to download an appliance yourself and then import it into the virtual infrastructure. With the new feature, admins can get new VMs and potentially critical company apps up and running in the short time that it takes to download an appliance.
By the time you read this article, VMware will have released two additional releases of Go.
David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. David’s library of popular video training courses can be found at Pluralsight.com. To contact David about his speaking schedule and his latest project, go to VirtualizationSoftware.com.