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VMware Looks to SMB Market

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On Tuesday, VMware introduced VirtualCenter for VMware Server, a new bundle designed to provide small and midsize businesses (SMBs) using the free VMware Server with what’s designed to be an easy-to-use and cost-effective way to manage a virtual server infrastructure.

With the release of VirtualCenter for VMware Server, is the SMB space the technology’s newest frontier?

“There’s a real problem of server sprawl [in small and midsize business] — two, three or four servers become 15, 20 or 30 servers,” Ben Matheson, director of product management at VMware, said. He added that those servers are not well-utilized. Typically, he said, only 10 percent to 15 percent of a server’s resources are used.

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“More servers mean paying more for hardware, using more space, spending more on electricity, needing more air conditioning. Hardware costs associated with server sprawl is a problem for SMBs,” Matheson said.

Apparently, small businesses are aware of the problem. Matheson said that since VMware Server became available in July 2006, SMBs have accounted for 70 percent of its 1.2 million downloads. “SMBs are adopting it in droves,” he said “We expect that to accelerate in coming years.”

VMware Server’s popularity with small businesses doesn’t surprise Jean Bozman, senior vice president Worldwide Server Group at IDC, a Framingham, Mass.-based research firm. Most people tend to think that virtualization means larger enterprise, she said, “but when you go to conferences like VMworld, and when you look more closely, there are a lot small businesses.”

“Virtualization is a different way of thinking about what you have. Business have lot of servers and anything to automate the process helps,” Bozman said. “Businesses are bringing in newer servers with more power. They are going from one core to dual core. They are getting more of everything in the same physical space.”

Charles King, principal analyst with PundIT, agrees that the new management suite is well-suited to SMBs that don’t have the resources to manage or hire an IT person to handle a virtual infrastructure. “It’s a good solution for businesses that don’t have that kind of expertise on hand. It doesn’t make sense to save $50,000 to $100,000 [by moving to a virtual environment] and then spend $50,000 — $80,000 too hire someone to manage it.”

What Does VirtualCenter Really Do

VMware VirtualCenter suite is designed to help manage that virtual world.

It provides “an easy on-ramp to virtualization, allowing you to centralize physical and virtual server management by providing a single pane of glass,” Matheson said. By using that single interface to monitor virtual servers, admins can better optimize server capacity and make better decisions about which servers to virtualize, Matheson said.

VirtualCenter for VMware Server also speeds up the process of provisioning servers, Matheson said. “Provisioning a new [physical] server is traditionally very slow. It can take days or weeks to acquire hardware, load the OS, add backup agents and administer network settings.” The capability for rapid server provisioning is designed to reduce the time needed to provision a server from days to minutes, he said.

VirtualCenter has a feature to enable admins to build a library of templates, making it faster to deploy new e-mail, Web server and database servers, Matheson said.

The new virtualization management bundle with one VirtualCenter for VMware Server, three agents and enterprise-class support, including unlimited 30-day support from VMware, has a list price of $1,500. Or you can purchase VirtualCenter for VMware Server separately for $1,000 plus $400 per agent per physical server managed. Enterprise-class support for VMware Server sells for $350 for a one-year subscription per two processors.

This article was originally published on Small Business Computing.

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