VMware pushing further into systems infrastructure

The company says it plans to do a lot more in the area of virtualization to help simplify IT operations

Virtualization software vendor VMware Inc. plans to extend its reach into additional systems-infrastructure areas following the unveiling of its VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) suite Monday.

Due to ship in two weeks' time, VI3 brings together new versions of VMware's ESX Server and its VirtualCenter software and adds brand-new capabilities including distributed resource scheduling and consolidated backup.

VMware has applied its virtualization technology to help simplify a number of different IT operations in the data center and the company plans to do a lot more in this area, according to Diane Greene, the company's co-founder and president.

"Over the next few years, we'll take all the systems infrastructure and put in virtual infrastructure and do more powerful things than anyone thought possible," she said in a keynote address to attendees at VMware's first analyst day in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Other systems infrastructure areas on VMware's future product road map include "reliability, availability, serviceability, security and responsiveness," Greene said in an interview after her address. She particularly talked up software lifecycle management as an area that could benefit from the virtualization approach to help companies as they first develop and later test new applications.

Greene doesn't expect VMware to release these future capabilities in a suite like VI3, but rather more on a gradual basis over time. "I can't believe we pulled this off," she said of VI3. The work involved in bringing the virtualization software suite to market is what would "kill most companies," Greene added.

Many of VMware's 800 to 900 research and development engineers worked on VI3 over the past two and a half years, with much of the work being done at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto, California.

Greene positioned the upcoming release of VI3 as the start of a second phase for her company, one where virtualization is an established technology which users feel comfortable with. "We spent the last eight and a half years evangelizing virtualization," she said. "Now, it's here to stay."

Phase two also means facing competition from the likes of Microsoft Corp. and open-source virtualization player XenSource Inc.

"In phase one, there were no alternatives, no shipping products," Greene said. Looking ahead, VMware plans to issue performance benchmarks comparing its virtualization software with that of its rivals, she added.

VI3 was previously codenamed Dali McKinley, Greene said. VMware's product codenames typically namecheck an artist and a mountain, in this case, Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali and Mount McKinley, the highest mountain peak in North America. Intel Corp. was also fond of the Alaskan mountain, using McKinley as the codename for its Itanium 2 64-bit server chip a few years back.

Focused on x86 server virtualization, VMware is an independent subsidiary of storage vendor EMC Corp.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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