Virtualization

VMware embraces the cloud with vSphere

VMware has launched vSphere, the latest rendition of what used to be called Virtual Infrastructure. vSphere comes in three product segments and seven editions, one of which is the familiar (and free) ESXi edition. Scott Lowe provides a brief overview of the new editions and some of the features.

VMware has modified its product portfolio to continue to enhance its virtualization platform's capabilities and to attempt to tap into the small business market. Today, six core servers are available, with the companies working on jamming ever more cores on a chip. VMware's vSphere products allow for six cores per processor, with the exception of the Advanced and Enterprise Plus editions, which max out at 12 cores per processor. VMware has updated its multicore licensing policy to consider processors with up to six cores as a single processor.

Three product segments

The first segment includes the aforementioned ESXi product, which has been around for a while. Both ESX and/or ESXi are included in other product segments, too.

The second segment is what VMware is calling vSphere for Small Business and includes two products:

  • Essentials: The Essentials package includes the hypervisor product as well as a management server license and management agent.
    • Cores per processor supported: Six cores
  • Essentials Plus: Essentials Plus includes everything from the Essentials package and adds high availability and data protection to the mix. These technologies make it possible for VMware-based infrastructures to remain well-protected against problems.
    • Cores per processor supported: Six cores

As a part of the new product wave, VMware has renamed VirtualCenter to VMware vCenter Server and, in the Essentials space, named this product VMware vCenter Server for Essentials.

The small business segment is relatively new to VMware. Although its products were broadly targeted, this is the first time that the company has created a product targeted directly at the small business. Sure, the old Foundations product could be considered a small business product but even then, VMware did not market the product specifically to that market segment.

The third segment in VMware's product lineup is the medium and large business segment. There are four products in the VMware vSphere Editions for Mid-Size & Enterprise Business grouping, which include the following:

  • Standard: The Standard package includes the hypervisor product as well as a management server license and management agent.
    • Cores per processor supported: Six cores
  • Advanced: The Advanced package adds a number of availability features, including Live Migration (a newly renamed VMotion), Continuous Availability, Network Security Zoning, and Data Protection and includes many of the features from the Essentials line.
    • Cores per processor supported: 12 cores
  • Enterprise: The package includes everything from Standard and Advanced. Enterprise throws in what VMware calls Automated Resource Management, which includes Dynamic Resource Allocation, Power Management, and Storage Live Migration.
    • Cores per processor supported: Six cores
  • Enterprise Plus: The cream of the crop, Enterprise Plus, adds a feature set called Simplified Operations, which adds Third Party Multipathing, Distributed Switch, and Host Configuration Controls.
    • Cores per processor supported: 12 cores

New lingo

VMware has taken some cues from Microsoft's marketing playbook through its product differentiation and even the naming of its products (Essentials, anyone?). VMware has also done its customers what I consider to be a huge disservice by, again, renaming pretty much every product; to say that this frustrates the heck out of customers would be the understatement of the millennium. (If VMware is ever looking for cost savings, maybe its Marketing department could be pared back.)

To help you learn the new lingo, the following list briefly explains some of the features mentioned above:

  • Live Migration/VMotion: Seamlessly migrates machines between ESX hosts with no impact on the user.
  • Distributed Switch: Provides a centralized point of administration in ESX clusters and moves beyond the host-level network configuration found in previous versions of Virtual Infrastructure. Keeps track of virtual system state even as VMs move between ESX hosts. Read the VMware Networking blog for more information about Distributed Switch.
  • Dynamic Resource Allocation: Continuously monitors utilization across defined resource pools and allocates available resources among virtual machines based on need. For more information, read the PDF Resource Management with VMware DRS and the features list.
  • Power Management: Constantly monitors and manages data center power consumption. As host resource usage drops, hosts can be automatically powered off, thus reducing overall power usage. VMware indicates that organizations using Power Management could see energy savings of 20%. Watch the video overview.
  • Data Protection: Assists with protecting your data by providing critical backup and restore features. It's part of vSphere's business continuity capabilities.
  • Storage Live Migration/Storage VMotion: The one component in VMotion that is the Achilles Heel in the storage pool. Storage Live Migration does for virtual disks what Live Migration does for the virtual machines.
  • Continuous Availability: Takes availability to the next level by providing application-aware availability. Creates a live shadow instance of a virtual machine that stays in lockstep with the primary application instance.
  • High Availability: Provides hardware-independent failover for virtual machines that are running on VMware ESX hosts.
  • Patch Manager: Provides centralized patch management, compliance, and reporting. Some Microsoft and Linux virtual machines with vCenter Update Manager can be managed under Patch Manager.
  • Management Server: This is Virtual Center as you've always known it -- the tool used to manage clusters of ESX servers.
  • Management Agent: This is the Virtual Center agent that allows an ESX host to be managed by Virtual Center.
  • Hypervisor: The hypervisor itself has not been renamed; VMware still calls this portion of the infrastructure ESX and ESXi.
  • Third Party Multipathing: Makes sure that availability is maintained and provides for load balancing by vendors using third party multipathing products, such as EMC's PowerPath.

If you'd like to see exactly what features are included in each edition of vSphere, visit the vSphere Essentials information page or the vSphere Editions for Mid-Sized and Enterprise Business page on VMware's site.

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About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

2 comments
anon1354
anon1354

There are actually a couple of very good reasons VMware probably changed its product naming. The first (and probably most obvious to Paul Maritz when he took over as CEO) is that VMware to date had *not* spent enough money on their Marketing department. The product names were extremely general (VMware Infrastructure? Really? You?re going to go forward with ?Infrastructure? as your brand? ? imagine buying ?Microsoft Operating System? instead of ?Windows?) or pretty 2nd-grade (VirtualCenter, with the secret sauce being that it?s all one word? sheesh) Don?t even get me started on the things they didn?t change ? ESX, ESXi? Just resonates virtualization and datacenter supremacy to me? (not) So the first good reason to change the names was to fix the extreme lack of attention paid to brand image and marketing by Paul?s predecessor. The second good reason to change was that VMware is shifting into a different market segment altogether with this cloud computing push, and there?s some good reasoning behind thinking that folks familiar with their old market positions and naming conventions might hesitate to associate them with the emerging high-end and mid-tier cloud-computing movement going on in IT right now. Such a dramatic marketing shift requires a rebranding of sorts, especially when you start with crappy product names as previously mentioned. So you have to learn new product names? Boo hoo. Be honest, you're just going to buy the high-level package anyway and make your lower-level IT folks figure out the pieces and parts, right? Then again, I guess you have to have *something* to complain about or else you're not a good blogger. Carry on then...

kmdennis
kmdennis

This constant renaming of products is driving me nuts again. It was bad enough to try and remember all the features but to rename the products is another frustrating gimmic that the marketing people are at again. They must really believe that since MS is so big and they keep doing it, then they too should follow suit because that is what big companies do. While they are at it, why not lets rename TCP/IP, and WWW, yes lets rename those standards. It will sure add to the ruckus. And they should consider moving things around, hiding the commonly used features under a host of subheadings. Ah! More money to be made for the training. See, I should be in marketing for these people. Now Novell should take a cue. They have the worst marketing department. The name should have been changed a long time ago. But alas, there is still time. $$$

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