VMware simplifies the ESXi hypervisor for SMBs

VMware Go is a free Web-based service designed to help SMBs get ESXi up and running quickly

As the fifth VMworld virtualization user conference gets under way in San Francisco, the question becomes, What will be the big announcements out of VMware during the two keynote sessions and throughout the show? As we all say "hello" to freedom, what big takeaways will VMware leave us with this year?

Since VMware vSphere 4.0 is old hat now, and we've been talking about private and public clouds for so long now, one can only imagine if Paul Maritz has something new up his sleeve this year. Or maybe not and it will just be all about vSphere 4.0 and the cloud.

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VMware recently put out a press release stating how the company was doing so far this year. In the first half of 2009, more than 21,000 new customers purchased VMware solutions, and VMware vSphere 4 has reached more than 350,000 downloads in the first 12 weeks of general availability. According to a recent VMware poll, approximately 75 percent of customers that responded said they would upgrade or plan to upgrade to vSphere 4 within the next six months.

A few VMware users that I spoke with these past two weeks all said they planned on waiting until the Update 1 patch was released before they would consider upgrading, at least in production. But while satisfied with VMware VI3.5, they all seemed to note at least one or two useful features in vSphere 4 that they were anxious to have in their production environments.

So it seems as though VMware vSphere 4 appears to be doing well. Perhaps this year's VMworld sessions and keynotes will try to convince customers to speed up their upgrade plans.

One early announcement has VMware launching a beta version of a product called VMware Go, a free Web-based service designed to help first-time customers get started with virtualization.

The new Web-based service is said to help automate the installation and configuration of VMware's ESXi hypervisor. The company said that VMware Go will enable SMB customers to "fly through the ESXi setup process with just a few mouse clicks." While at VMworld, I had the chance to speak with a few VMware administrators about this news. Like me, they questioned the "difficulty" of installing and configuring today's ESXi. I wasn't aware that there was a perception out there that ESXi was difficult to get up and running. But evidently, VMware Go will make things even easier than before. The company appears to be going after the SMB market with this product.

"VMware Go is the latest innovation we've brought to market as part of our ongoing commitment to helping SMB customers run their applications with more agility, profitability, and resilience," said Dan Chu, vice president, emerging products and markets at VMware. "Nearly every SMB stands to benefit tremendously from virtualization. VMware Go will simplify virtualization for SMBs to a few easy online steps and was designed with SMBs in mind. We want SMBs who may be sitting on the fence to realize all the benefits of virtualization without burdening their limited IT resources."

VMware Go is being made available as a beta offering. It is expected to become generally available as a free service in 2010.