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VMware Updates vSphere 4.1 for Massive Cloud Computing Scale

By Andy Patrizio (Send Email)
Posted Jul 13, 2010


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For a point release, vSphere 4.1 packs an awful lot of new features, functionality and improvements. And it's SMB friendly, to boot.

VMware Tuesday announced the release of VMware vSphere 4.1, the latest version of its virtualization management software, featuring a significant improvement in scalability and overall performance.

With vSphere 4.1 coming just one year after the release of vSphere 4.0, itself a big update, VMware (NYSE: VMW) is positioning the software to be the basis for a cloud infrastructure strategy, according to Bogomil Balkansky, vice president of marketing for the company.

"Our vision is to make cloud computing real for customers and vendors alike, and we believe vSphere is the software to do it," he told InternetNews.com.

The ideal end state, he said, is a hybrid cloud that is connected both to internal cloud systems and services as well as securely connected to external cloud services, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3 and Google services.

vSphere 4.1 helps get there with a significant overhaul in scale. It can manage twice as many resource pools and up to 3,000 virtual machines in a cluster. vSphere 4.1 can now handle up to 1,000 physical hosts and 15,000 virtual machines, three times as many as before.

At the same time, performance has gotten a boost, with up to 25 percent better performance per application, according to VMware. A new memory compression technology better optimizes the contents of memory, so less memory has to be swapped out to disk.

Thanks to enhancements to vMotion, the virtual machine migration feature, migrations are now five times faster than the previous versions, and each server can handle up to eight concurrent vMotion events at once. Improvements to the network and storage I/O controls will provide granular control over how applications access shared storage and network resources for further performance improvement.

In addition to software changes, VMware is modifying its pricing policy for enterprise customers. Previously, it charged by the number of processors in the machine. Now it will charge by the number of virtual machines. This way, a company might actually save money if they have a scenario in which only a few of its servers are running a handful of virtual machines.

Separately, VMware is renaming its ESXi hypervisor software to VMware vSphere Hypervisor. It remains a free offering.

SMB Appreciation

While virtualization is usually thought of as an enterprise feature, VMware said SMBs are the fastest-growing segment of its customer base. It has tripled the number of customers in the SMB segment in the last two years through solutions and services aimed specifically at this market.

So to help that market even further, the firm announced new pricing for its SMB products, vSphere 4.1 Essentials Plus and Standard Editions. The price is now as low as $83 per processor, a 50 percent reduction from the previous entry price of $166. vSphere 4.1 Essentials Plus and Standard Edition will also get vMotion included in the software package for the first time.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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