VMware, XenSource Launch Virtualization Bundles
Published: February 7, 2007
by Timothy Prickett Morgan
The battle over the virtualized server environment on X64 servers continues to heat up, and Monday industry juggernaut VMware is rejiggering its products a bit in an effort to blunt competitive attacks from XenSource, the creator of the open source Xen hypervisor, and Virtual Iron, which created its own hypervisor and management software two years ago and which has subsequently adopted the Xen hypervisor to get more traction for its complete virtualization package.
A year ago, VMware rebranded its GSX Server virtualization hypervisor, dubbing it VMware Server and giving it away as a download in beta form. In July, VMware Server went into production, and the company offered enterprise-class support for it at a rate of $350 a year on a two-socket server for business-hour support; 24x7 support costs $450 a year.
The GSX Server and VMware Server hypervisor is distinct from the ESX Server hypervisor, which is the company's high-end product and the hypervisor at the heart of its Infrastructure 3 product, in one important way. ESX Server is a standalone hypervisor that is installed on bare iron and that provides a high level of isolation for partitions, while GSX Server and VMware Server run atop a Linux or Windows operating system and are therefore subject to the capriciousness of those operating systems.
According to Ben Matheson, director of product management at VMware, there have been over 1.2 million downloads of VMware Server since it was available in July; the beta program had another 700,000 downloads. This is certainly a large pool of customers from which to get fees for services and upgrades. The purpose of VMware Server, of course, was to blunt the low prices of XenEnterprise 3 and Virtual Iron 3, which finally came to market at the end of last year with aggressive pricing that undercut the fees that VMware charges for its ESX Server and various systems management and disaster recovery options that comprise the Infrastructure 3 product set. But the problem is that one of the key tools that makes VMware's virtualization products appealing--the VirtualCenter management tool--did not work with VMware Server. It has only been available on ESX Server.
Monday, VMware announced that the prior edition of this software--VirtualCenter 1.4, which hooked into ESX Server 2.5--would work with VMware Server 1.0. This implementation of VirtualCenter is not as sophisticated as VirtualCenter 2.0, which manages virtual machine libraries, file systems, archives, and disaster recovery policies in the Infrastructure 3 stack and can move active partitions around different physical machines through the VMotion feature. But the earlier VirtualCenter tool is good enough to make VMware Server 1.0 a usable product for many customers--particularly the small and medium businesses that make up a large part of the IT market.
To that end, VMware is offering a bundle of VMware Server 1.0, VirtualCenter 1.4, and the freebie VMware Converter, which was announced last fall and which converts physical machines to virtual machines and visa versa. The bundle sells for $1,500 for a two-socket server covering licensing and a year's maintenance, which means VMware is charging $1,050 for the VirtualCenter management tool. When used in conjunction with ESX Server 2.5 or 3.0, VirtualCenter 2.0 costs $5,000. So this bundle is a big price cut, and it shows that VMware is not only responding to competition, but listening to input from the SMB customers who downloaded VMware Server in the past year. According to Matheson, 70 percent of those companies that downloaded VMware Server in the past year were SMBs, which means they had fewer than 1,000 employees. This corresponds to 100 or less servers in the typical data center, by the way. SMB shops are not interested in shelling out $6,000 for a sophisticated virtualization environment; $1,500 is a lot closer to the price they might be willing to pay.
By the way, the iteration of VirtualCenter 1.4 that VMware is selling as part of this bundle can only work with VMware Server; you cannot use it with current or prior releases of the ESX Server hypervisor. The VirtualCenter code provisions and manages virtual machines on a single box, can monitor resource utilization, and set thresholds and courses of action when those thresholds are met.
"Three really isn't any reason why SMB customers can't start using virtualization now," says Matheson.
Over at XenSource, the company has hooked up with server maker IBM and systems reseller Tech Data to offer System x servers that are preconfigured with XenSource's XenEnterprise 3 hypervisor and related management tools. IBM and Tech Data will divulge the details of this bundle later this week, but say they are adding XenEnterprise to IBM's x3500 tower and x3550 rack-mounted servers. These are two-socket servers that use Intel's latest dual-core "Woodcrest" Xeon 5100 and quad-core "Clovertown" Xeon 5300 processors.
XenEnterprise has also been certified under IBM's ServerProven program, which gives customers discounts on new server gear if they buy certified programs on them. The ServerProven status spans the entire System x product line, not just the two machines outlined above.
XenSource, Virtual Iron Gun for VMware with Features, Low Prices
XenSource Begins Shipping XenEnterprise Hypervisor
VMware Extends ESX Server to 64 Bits, Betas New P2V Converter
VMware Delivers Eponymous Freebie Hypervisor, Sets Support Prices
VMware Offers New Packaging and Pricing with ESX Server 3
The X Factor: Virtual Server Sprawl
Microsoft Gives Away Virtual Server, Supports Linux
XenSource Shifts Gears as It Rolls Out XenEnterprise Virtualization
VMware Gives Away Updated GSX Server for Free
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