VMware to debut next-gen ESX 3.0, VirtualCenter 2.0

Quoting from CRN:

VMware is preparing its next-generation ESX 3.0 and VirtualCenter 2.0 platforms to usher in a new era of virtualization.

At VMWorld next month, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company will debut its ESX 3.0 upgrade with greater scalability and memory and new support for iSCSI storage.

In addition, the new platform, which is expected to ship by the end of the year, will support Intel’s Virtualization Technology (IVT) and Advanced Micro Devices’ Pacifica hypervisor virtualization extensions.

The Intel server chips to support the platform are slated to ship in the first quarter of 2006, while AMD’s chips are expected to ship in the first half, sources said.

ESX 3.0, deemed an interim upgrade over version 2.5, will support four-way SMP and 16 Gbytes of RAM. This will pave the way for VARs to integrate large database workloads on virtual machines, according to sources briefed at VMware’s recent partner event in Vienna, Austria. The current version supports two-way machines and up to 3.6 Gbytes of memory.

In addition, VMware is introducing two automation features in VirtualCenter 2.0: Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) and Distributed Availability Service (DAS), sources said.

Paul Ghostine, CEO of Emergent Online, a VMware solution provider based in Reston, Va., said the advanced features of the new platform surpass anything the competition has. “Our VMware business is growing through the roof,” said Ghostine, whose systems integration firm has generated roughly $6 million since becoming a VMware partner this summer.

Microsoft announced plans earlier this year to integrate hypervisor technology into the next major upgrade of its Windows server, but the software giant recently revised that date, saying the capability won’t make it until after Longhorn server in 2007.

The sophisticated new features of VMware’s platform underscore the company’s commitment to stay ahead of Microsoft and the open-source Xen virtualization project, partners say.

ESX 3.0, for instance, will support para-virtualization, a technique employed by the Xen project.

VMware’s DRS, meanwhile, is a collection of ESX servers that can be managed as a single pool and uses VMware’s VMotion live migration to move virtual machines between servers to balance workloads.

DAS enables clustering of ESX servers so that virtual machines can provide automatic failover from one host to another in the event of a host failure, according to the company’s Web site.

“It’s a poor man’s disaster recovery,” said one partner who is beta-testing the code but requested anonymity.

One VMware source told CRN that DRS and DAS are the crown jewels of VirtualCenter 2.0 but partner customization will be necessary.

“VirtualCenter looks at all servers as a grid, and if they need more power and space, you can set it to automatically get more space or pull a [virtual machine] out of one place and move it to other places where it makes sense,” said the VMware source.