VMware Rolls Out vSphere 4

VSphere 4 has the capability to manage the data center as a set of virtualized resources.
VMware has launched its vSphere 4 data center management system ahead of schedule. It had been expected at the end of the second quarter. VSphere 4 is the next generation of VMware's already established VMware Infrastructure 3. In addition to renaming the virtual machine management suite, VMware has given it the added responsibility of managing the data center as a set of virtualized resources.

VSphere 4 is the graduation of Virtual Infrastructure 3 into the data center operating system, said Ragu Raghuram, VP and general manager of VMware's server business unit, in announcing the launch.

Instead of managing virtual machines on a one-by-one basis, vSphere 4 seeks to create and manage virtualized workloads in large-scale environments. It also seeks to deliver predictable application performance, with secure operations.

VMware says data centers should be able to achieve a consolidation 30% higher by upgrading to vSphere 4. If the upgrade includes new Intel servers based on the Nehalem or Xeon 5500 chips, the gain would be 60%, said representatives for HP and IBM. That means a business running 10 VMs per server today would see a yield of about 16 VMs per server with the combination of new vSphere 4 and next-generation hardware.

Without a hardware upgrade, the new VM management system should still yield a power savings of 20% through more sophisticated power management and consolidation of virtual machines on the fewest servers possible, said VMware VP Bogomil Balkansky.

Components of vSphere 4 include the vNetwork Distributed Switch, which allows multiple virtual machines to aggregate VM network traffic through a virtual network device, such as Cisco's Nexus 1000. From there it's routed to high-speed physical networking devices, saving frequent interruptions to the ESX hypervisor's application processing in a virtual machine.

VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler, vCenter Server, VMware Fault Tolerance, vShield Zones, and other management tools convert a set of x86 servers into a virtualized data center or private cloud, able to host many virtual machines but managing the cluster as a single unit.

VMware lists the Defense Contract Management Agency, Campbell Clinic, Harley Davidson, FICO, and Melbourne IT as early adopters of vSphere 4. Pricing starts at $166 per processor for small businesses, up to the Enterprise Plus version priced at $3,495 per processor.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on server virtualization. Download the report here (registration required).

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