Free VMware Go product brings ESXi management into the cloud

This free Web-based tool from VMware hopes to make virtualization management easier for SMBs

Originally unveiled just prior to the start of VMworld 2009 back in August, VMware's Web-based ESXi 4.0 management tool, VMware Go, has finally been released. Users can now sign up for the service at the new VMware Go Web site.

There are a number of companies trying to challenge VMware's virtualization market dominance. To do that, big-name companies are offering free virtualization solutions such as Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and Red Hat KVM. VMware also has its own free hypervisor technology, ESXi. But many SMB companies are still on the fence about whether to virtualize and, if so, which vendor to implement. This segment of the market appears to be a significant portion of future virtualization revenue; however, current adoption rates just aren't there.

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For many organizations, a lack of virtualization skills or the lack of time and money to properly train IT staff can be a large barrier to overcome. With the introduction of VMware Go, VMware is trying to simplify the installation and configuration of its ESXi hypervisor and provide an easy on-ramp for SMB companies that might be new to the server virtualization market.

"With VMware Go, we are eliminating the skill barrier for getting started with virtualization, so companies who are concerned about not having the IT resources or expertise, especially SMBs, can now more quickly and easily enjoy the many benefits of virtualization," said Dan Chu, vice president of emerging products and markets at VMware.

VMware Go is used to manage the embedded ESXi 4.0 hypervisor, and it works by helping to initially set up the virtualization host server, automatically check for hardware compatibility, provide assistance with virtual machine creation, monitor virtual machines for basic performance and resource utilization, and scan and update virtual machines for patching from a central console.

The interesting twist here is that VMware Go is a hosted SaaS application that runs in the cloud and cannot be run locally on your network. In order to make the most of it, you'll need an Internet connection available to your physical and virtual environment. The solution was developed in partnership with Shavlik Technologies, a VMware Technology Alliance Partner who also helped VMware with its Update Manager patching solution. The data is stored in the cloud; specifically, it is stored in a fully managed, secure datacenter that is perhaps owned and operated by Shavlik.

Within the agreement to use VMware Go, VMware does state that they will analyze collective usage data from the system in order to better understand usage patterns and to improve VMware Go functionality going forward. However, they state that individual information will not be used or distributed for commercial purposes. This data will prove to be extremely valuable to VMware.

And for those of you keeping score at home, it may also prove interesting to know that VMware Go is currently dependent on Microsoft technology as it requires a Microsoft Windows operating system, Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5, and Microsoft Windows PowerShell to run.

While VMware Go is currently a free product, VMware is still getting a lot of value out of this release. By making ESXi easier to use and more manageable, VMware seeks to increase its market share with the SMB market and those organizations that aren't yet ready to plunk down large sums of money in order to virtualize. These companies can still provide VMware increased revenue over time if they choose to pay for additional support packages or by hopefully upgrading to vSphere 4.0 as they become more virtualization-savvy and interested in leveraging more sophisticated features such as vCenter, VMotion, disaster recovery, and fault tolerance. Again let's not forget the value of learning how the SMB market uses its virtualization platform with the data it will collect from VMware Go.

This story, "Free VMware Go product brings ESXi management into the cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com.

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