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VMware Enhances vSphere for SMBs

Small and midsize companies have a new path to VMware virtualization management tools, as vSphere gets a dose of vCenter Operations Management Suite and new data protection options.

VMware on Tuesday announced a new vSphere virtualization platform line that incorporates the standard edition of its vCenter Operations Management Suite.

VMware vSphere with Operations Management adds the management and reporting capabilities of vCenter Operations to the existing vSphere platform. VMware marketing manager Mike Adams described the new vSphere line as a logical next step after last year's launch of vCloud, the company's software-defined data center play aimed at large enterprises.

"We said: Geez, what about people who buy transactionally from us -- people outside of our enterprise license agreement, people who buy through the channel? What about them?" Adams said in an interview. vSphere with Operations Management is VMware's answer to its own question.

It's made up of two key components. The first is "operational insight" -- a fancy way of saying monitoring -- and includes an environmental health and performance data dashboard. The second is capacity management, which is intended to prevent IT pros from feeling their way around the virtual dark. VMware is touting capacity utilization improvements of up to 40% with the new line.

[ How large a threat is Microsoft to VMware's fortunes? See VMware Vs. Microsoft: The Next Chapter. ]

"So many times I've run into users and asked them: 'How you ever given out too large a VM to a user? Or have you ever given out a VM and you kind of don't even know what happens to it after a while in terms of tracking?'" Adams said. "Usually, there's a profound shaking of their head 'yes' when you ask them those two questions."

vSphere with Operations Management is intended for the high end of the small and midsize business (SMB) segment, which VMware defines as up to 1,000 employees, on into the "commercial" market. That's VMware's tweener category between SMB and large enterprise, comprised of firms with between 1,000 and 5,000 employees. Adams said the line isn't just for new customers; rather, VMware will push upgrades for existing shops, too, in part with a 15% discount offer.

In his recent analysis of VMware's Q4 earnings, InformationWeek's Charles Babcock noted industry concerns around marketplace saturation and increasing competition from Microsoft's Hyper-V. It's no surprise, then, that VMware continues to look for new sub-segments of its customer base in its product development. An 800-person shop and an 80-person firm might both fall under the broad blanket of SMB, but they typically have much different needs -- and much different pocketbooks. While Adams used the phrase "high end" to refer to organizational and environmental size, it might likewise be used to characterize budgets. Pricing for vSphere with Operations Management starts at $1,745 per CPU license for the standard edition.

VMware simultaneously unveiled a new data protection tool for similar midsize vSphere environments. Building on the 2012 launch of vSphere Data Protection, which first appeared with vSphere 5.1, the new Advanced edition offers greater virtual storage capacity, among other upgrades. The current virtual appliance will back up as much as 2 TB of deduplicated data; the advanced version will handle up to 8 TB per virtual appliance. Depending on backup processes and the number of appliances, that makes the advanced version suitable for backing up environments with somewhere in the range of 200 to 600 virtual machines, VMware marketing manager Alberto Farronato said in an interview.

vSphere Data Protection Advanced, which is powered by EMC's Avamar technology, also features tighter integration and application awareness with Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server. According to Farronato, that's a function of what the high-end SMB is using today.

"For the type of environments and customers that we think [Data Protection] Advanced will be interesting for, these two applications are at the top of list in terms of importance," Farronato said.

VMware on Monday also announced it will acquire Virsto, which makes software for optimizing virtualized storage environments. Virsto, which touts a 70% reduction in cost of storage per desktop, fattens up VMware's existing storage virtualization offerings. VMware said EMC will also license Virsto in the future.

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