VMware this week introduced Infrastructure 3, designed to aggregate both servers and storage as virtualized resources that can be more easily manged by one administrator. In effect, many combinations of an operating system and applications can be assigned virtual machines and disk space without the operator necessarily knowing the details of any of the physical devices.
The VMware products that make it possible—the ESX 3.0 virtual server, the VMotion virtual machine migrator, and VirtualCenter 2.0, a multiple virtual machine management tool—"aren't exactly new," writes Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff in a report this week. But the way VMware has packaged their capabilities into one management console and reduced their pricing "breaks new ground," he wrote.
In addition to the existing products, VMware has added the functions of distributed job scheduling, high availability or automated failover of a virtual machine from one server to another, and consolidated backup, letting Infrastructure 3 manage x86 servers and their storage throughout a server farm or data center.
Infrastructure 3 Starter is priced at $1,000 for small businesses being run on a two-way server; Infrastructure 3 Standard is priced at $3,750 for consolidating departmental level servers; the Enterprise version is designed for data centers and is priced at $5,750.
VMware, dubbed the virtualization market leader by IDC, has previously been instrumental in promoting the adoption of virtualization in the data center through resources it's made available.
A principal systems engineer at the University of Utah, Bryan Peterson, says the school's Data Resource Center for its teaching hospital was formerly buying a server for each new application. His CIO assigned him the role of "Elmer Fudd at a rabbit farm—going out and shooting server requests."
Instead of buying more servers, Peterson consolidated applications into virtual machines, achieving a concentration of 8 to 10 on each piece of two-way hardware. His goal is to avoid buying 80 servers in 2006, a benchmark that is already within reach. He has generated 120 virtual machines on existing servers since January. If the approach is continued over three years, Peterson says the university will save $2.5 million
He is now upgrading the data center's 20 HP BL blade servers to dual-core BL 25s blades. Instead of two processors per blade, the dual-core systems amount to four processors. With their concentrated processing power, he says he can consolidate 20 to 22 virtual machines on a server.
While he uses VMware products, he hasn't tested Infrastructure 3. With the ability to schedule jobs across a server farm and manage the risk of a single server failing, he says Infrastructure 3, which he will test drive later this year, should help him boost server utilization rates from about 40% to closer to 60%.
Instead of relying on VMware to manage his data center, however, he expects to make use of VMware's plug-in to HP's OpenView system management console and make use of the VMware tools through OpenView.