VMware opens up testing of next-gen vSphere to anyone

The next version of the virtualization platform is expected to be announced at VMworld in August

VMware is for the first time inviting anyone to beta test the next version of vSphere, the company's virtualization platform.

The company is hoping to learn more about how organizations use vSphere under real-world conditions and test cases, it said. As VMware has expanded beyond server virtualization to set its sights on the whole datacenter, it has become more important for the company to get feedback from a larger group.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 vs. VMware vSphere 5.1 face off -- see which virtualization client prevails. | Do server virtualization right with help from InfoWorld's expert contributors and the "Server Virtualization Deep Dive" PDF guide. | Find out how to get highly reliable failover at a fraction of the usual cost in InfoWorld's High Availability Virtualization Deep Dive PDF special report. ]

To lure enterprises, VMware is pitching the vSphere Beta program as a way to get a head start and a chance to affect product development. Those who take part will also get to collaborate with other participants, learning about their use cases, and share feedback, VMware said.

This is an interesting change in policy for VMware, according to virtualization expert Marcel Van Den Berg. Microsoft always has been very open about Hyper-V upgrades, letting the public download beta versions. VMware, on the other hand, has preferred to keep features and even the release number of new versions of vSphere secret until the product is unveiled at the VMworld conference, he said in a blog post Wednesday.

While VMware is opening up the beta to a wider audience the company still aims to keep functionality secret until the successor to vSphere 5.5 is launched. To download the beta, users have to agree not to talk about the product with anyone who isn't taking part in the program.

The vSphere Beta program has no end date, but VMware strongly encourages feedback in the first four to six weeks of the program, it said. The U.S. edition of this year's VMworld, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, will open its doors on Aug. 24.

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