Hoping to inspire more enthusiasm among corporate and smaller users alike for virtualization technology, VMware signed a deal to bundle evaluation copies of its entire virtual infrastructure software line with all IBM Intel-based eServer BladeCenter servers.
Under the terms of the deal, corporate users buying any BladeCenter server get evaluation copies of VMware's suite that are good for six months. At the end of that period, users can decide whether to buy or not to buy the suite, which includes VMware ESX Server, VMware Virtual SMP, and VMware VirtualCenter with VMotion.
"What we found is that people who use it [VMware's suite of virtual products], appear to have a propensity to deploy it. This is something that IBM and VMWare are doing jointly because we have found that in working with IBM over the past four years, there is a high degree of synergy between blade server users and virtualization users," said Brian Byun, VMware's vice president of alliances.
Users will have the right to deploy the evaluation products on as many as two blade servers, according to Byun.
The combination of BladeCenter servers running VMware's products is intended to allow corporate users to virtualize server platforms on which to deploy their mission critical applications and Web-based services, thereby lowering cost of ownership through reducing the size and complexity of their IT infrastructure, according to spokespeople for both companies.
On IBM's Intel-based servers, VMware already provides the partitioning technology for IBM's Virtualization Engine technology, which makes consolidating workloads from existing higher-end servers onto less expensive servers easier, company officials claim.
IBM officials believe the real value of the deal to users will be that VMware's products will work well with the management software they already include with each blade server, namely the IBM Director.
"Last year we introduced a component (part of IBM Director) called the Virtual Machine Manager that works with VMware's VMotion and Microsoft's virtual manager. But VMware's (product) is interesting because it has a traditional partitioning scheme to cut up a processor into multiple machines, but also gives you a management scheme for scale-out applications, making them easier to manage as you add more blades," said Tim Dougherty, director of IBM's eServer BladeCenter products. "We have architected things so that all this is manageable from a single piece of glass," he said.
Dougherty believes that the management scheme will prove to be the capability that convinces many users to deepen their commitment to a range of different virtualization strategies over time.
One user appeared to agree with Dougherty on the value of improved management capabilities for virtual infrastructure software.
"It [VMware's virtual infrastructure] makes a server environment more manageable as well as redundant. It can also boost efficiency because blades take up half the space of more traditional 1U servers," said Carlo Bonura, a technical system analyst for Dean Health System, a provider of integrated medical services, insurance, and research.
VMware ESX Server is responsible for partitioning, consolidating, and managing computing resources, while Virtual SMP lets virtual machines span multiple physical processors. VMware VirtualCenter provides a central point of control for virtual computing resources, and VMotion technology enables live virtual machines to be migrated to achieve more dynamic load balancing.