VMware Makes a Show of Its Golden Summer

It’s been a busy summer for VMware, and the virtualization kingpin wants to keep the momentum going.

In conjunction with the start of its VMworld 2007 conference in San Francisco this week, VMware announced ESX Server 3i, a next-generation “thin” version of its hypervisor, designed to be integrated in servers. The company also announced VMware Virtual Desktop Manager 2 and said it plans to release a new product called VMware Site Recovery Manager.

Bogomil Balkansky, VMware’s senior director of product marketing, said ESX Server 3i is only 32 megabytes, which is 50 times smaller than VMware’s current hypervisor.

“In this case, size matters; smaller is better,” Balkansky told InternetNews.com. “The less lines of code, the smaller area there is for security attacks and the easier it is to lock down the environment.”

Nor does ESX Server 3i incorporate a general-purpose operating system, which Balkansky said is a security advantage because the operating system can be the source of vulnerabilities.

VMware plans to embed the new hypervisor  as firmware  , greatly simplifying installation. “The server boots into the hypervisor and the user has to confirm two defaults,” said Balkansky. “There’s no installation.”

NEC, Fujitsu, Dell, HP and IBM have already made plans to embed the product in their servers, he added. The first models are expected to appear later this year with a broader ramp up in 2008.

Peter Amstutz, chief of network design at the Defense Department’s Defense Contract Management Agency, thinks ESX Server 3i is a significant development. “IT professionals will stop thinking about virtualization as an operating system or software, but really as a component of the hardware itself,” he said.

The Virtual Desktop Manager 2 is considered a key component of VMware’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). The VDI is designed to let organizations centralize desktop management and control using the company’s Virtual Infrastructure 3 platform. The next-generation connection broker can connect clients to hosted desktops in any environment, including, in the future, alternative server-based computing models. The product is currently in beta and slated for release later this year.

Lastly, Site Recovery Manager is a new offering that promises to automate the planning and management recovery from datacenter outages.

“Today if you ask most big companies about their disaster-recovery plan, chances are it’s in a thick book that describes a step-by-step procedure of who to contact and what to do if this or that happens,” said Balkansky. “But testing a real disaster scenario is impractical and chances are it won’t work.”

He said Site Recovery Manager will include an isolated “sandbox,” a virtual LAN that lets companies simulate the recovery process of turning all systems back on in the right order. “And if it’s not recovering correctly, you can see which systems aren’t behaving right and investigate what’s wrong.”

Unlike point solutions designed for specific hardware and applications, he said Site Recovery Manager is designed to protect and recover on a much broader scale.

Mark Bowker, analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group, said regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA , which mandate disaster recovery, are helping to raise awareness of the importance and preparation required to ensure successful recovery. “Server virtualization solutions are actually enabling faster and more reliable disaster recovery,” he said in a statement.

VMware said it is working with storage partners to certify and support the use of leading replication capabilities with Site Recovery Manager. The product is not expected out until the first half of 2008.

VMware’s big week comes at the end of its summer of money. First Intel grabbed a 2.5 percent stake in the company for $218.5 million; a few weeks later Cisco followed suit, netting about a 1.6 percent share of VMware’s outstanding common stock for $150 million.

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