VMware Mimics Rome: All Virtual Roads Lead To It - InformationWeek

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10/3/2006
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VMware Mimics Rome: All Virtual Roads Lead To It

The company is trying to make it easier to generate and manage virtual machines that run systems that are being virtualized for the first time or were virtualized originally by someone else.

As virtualization activity proliferates, VMware is making it easier to generate and manage virtual machines that run systems that are being virtualized for the first time or were virtualized originally by someone else.

Can startup Trigence virtualize a Linux application? VMware will import it into a VMware virtual machine.

Is Microsoft planning on offering applications virtualized by the upcoming SoftGrid for Desktop, the result of its Softricity acquisition in July? VMware will host that system too and place it under the scope of its expanded management tools.

In the virtual world, VMware is trying to be like Rome: It would like all roads to eventually lead to VMware's management system, Virtual Center.

To get there, VMware has upgraded two existing products, Virtual Machine Importer and Physical-to-Virtual, or P2V, Assistant. They have been combined into VMware Converter 3, which can capture a digital image of the software running on a physical machine and convert it into a system running in a VMware virtual machine. It can do the same with VMware virtual servers, migrating a virtual machine from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2003 Server.

It's also automating the upgrade of its hypervisor system, ESX Server, so that users of an application running in an ESX Server 2.0 virtual machine might not notice more than a brief pause as the application gets upgraded to the present release, ESX Server 3.0.1.

VMware would like to make outmoded the notion of system downtime for virtual machine upgrade purposes, says Karthik Rau, senior director of the company's suite of VMware Infrastructure products.

"The enterprise version of Converter 3 will be able to convert 15 to 20 virtual machines at a time," and the migrations will be "non-disruptive" to end users, says Rau. Converter 3 is available in a free download version on the VMware Web site.

Downtime can be avoided with virtual machines because Virtual Center management tools generate a duplicate of a running system on the upgrade host, interrupt the application at the old location, and transfer operations to the new one. The application renews its operation at the interruption point. At most, the process takes a few seconds, says Rau.

Converter 3 is available in a beta version for free download at the VMware Web site. It can convert one virtual machine at a time. The enterprise edition of Converter, which can convert multiple virtual machines at one time, comes with the $5,000 Virtual Center Management Server.

In addition, VMware is upgrading ESX Server, its hypervisor product, which acts as a kernel of an operating system, communicating directly with the chip rather than through an operating system. ESX Server 3.0.1 will run with 64-bit Windows or Linux operating systems with full technical support. Its 64-bit capability had previously been termed "experimental."

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