Virtualization Technology Even an SMB Can Love

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Apr 21, 2010


Virtualization may have found its way into the majority of large enterprises, but small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have been slower to taste the Kool-Aid. VM6 is one company hoping to change this.

Virtually Speaking: Does the virtualization technology behind VM6 VMex have what it takes to win over the most resource-constrained SMBs?

The privately held start up, based in Montreal aims to offer a product that keeps costs down and solutions simple. Its flagship product, VM6 VMex, is designed for SMBs and remote and branch offices.

While the leading virtualization solutions are available free of cost or close to it, like with any app, there are costs associated with getting it to work. Such costs can take the form of equipment, software or skill sets, and they raise the cost of integrating the product. Skill sets, or lack thereof, are a particular issue for SMBs, which typically don't have the required resources on hand for a successful virtualization deployment. This often means adding consultants, professional services or training to the mix, thereby stripping away much, if not all, of the cost savings virtualization was intended to bring.

VM6 aims to change this with a solution designed to be close to plug-and-play that carries few hardware restrictions. For starters, it hooks directly into Hyper-V, and its hardware requirements are that the server be able to run Windows Server 2008.

Initially, VM6 VMex was centered around VMware. With the latest release, however, for ease-of-use and architectural development reasons, VM6 switched to Hyper-V, VM6 founder and COO Eric Courville told ServerWatch. The Windows environment is believed to be better-suited to the market VM6 was going after, Courville explained. VM6 has not closed the door on VMware, however, and future releases may add back the support.

The product's approach is also suited to that market: Customers need two servers (they need not be identical), which communicate with each other via a network interfaced card. Although the SAN requirement has been dropped, VM6 VMex offers clustering, network, storage, virtualization management and monitoring capabilities.

Despite the simplicity, VM6 VMex comes in two editions, VM6 VMex for Small and Medium Business, which is designed for a single site and one array, and VM6 VMex Enterprise Edition, which is meant for multiple sites and multiple arrays.

Both editions feature what Courville described as "the four Pillars of VM6 VMex:"

  1. virtual shared storage (including support for physical SANs, the ability to support storage solutions already in place as well as run on bare metal, and functionality and performance similar to physical SANs)
  2. advanced clustering for high availability (99.99 percent uptime, support for dissimilar systems, automated failover, and self-healing and scalability)
  3. virtual desktop infrastructure or VDI (compatibility with leading thin-client devices and the ability to manage virtual desktop images for consolidated and distributed IT infrastructure)
  4. virtualization management and monitoring (optimization based on how hardware resources are used, compatibility with leading thin-client devices, and management of virtual desktop images for both consolidated and distributed IT infrastructure).

VM6's approach is interesting. By appealing to SMBs with the allure of simplicity, as opposed to pure price-point, VM6 VMex is positioned well for the SMB that isn't expense-shy but is limited in in-house resources. Many such enterprises are receiving the hard sell on putting their data in the cloud. Assuming VM6 can deliver, this is a reasonable, and in many cases, more secure, alternative.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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