They Call It Hosted Virtualization

VMware is going hosting.

The EMC-owned virtualization vendor, whose software helps companies minimize costs by spreading many operating systems across fewer physical computer servers, has launched the VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP).

VSPP allows service providers to host computer servers that will allow telecommunications companies and outsourcing businesses to dial computing resources up or down as needed as a utility, said Bogomil Balkansky, senior director of product marketing for VMware.

VMware’s infrastructure software allows new capacity to be added and removed based on customer needs. This method is valuable, for example, for retailers who have seasonal increases in computing demand.

Balkansky said utility computing of virtual machines is in high demand from customers tired of traditional computing licenses.

For example, customers traditionally paid a hosting provider for a set contract in which they often over- or under-provisioned computing resources.
Moreover, getting resources added or subtracted was a hassle.

With VSPP, customers can have their hosting providers add or subtract virtual machines in minutes with ease. Such perks are the reasons IT experts have been predicting mass utility computing adoption over the last several years, as CIOs got tired of overspending for gear they didn’t necessarily need or use.

While VMware traditionally offers its infrastructure software products such as ESX Server on a perpetual license basis, Balkansky said VSPP will let hosting providers rent VMware virtual machines to their customers on a monthly basis. Each hosted virtual machine will contain an operating system, applications and other components as specified by the customer.

VMware is not the first virtualization vendor to hosted virtual machines.
SWSoft also lets customers host virtual machines, but Balkansky said the rival startup enables shared hosting at the operating system level.

SWSoft partitions an OS, with each virtual machine sharing the OS; with VMware software, every virtual machine has its own OS. This isolation of operating systems per virtual machines enables higher availability because if one virtual machine crashes, others remain available.

Moreover, VMware’s infrastructure software includes a high availability feature that automatically restarts a failed virtual machine on a different physical server. VMware also offers a distributed resource scheduler that reacts to increased demand on physical resources by moving virtual machines to less utilized hardware on the fly.

VMware currently has about 20 customers in pilot testing or in production with the VSPP. Data Return uses the VSSP in a solution it calls NH One powered by Infinistructure while Rackspace calls its VSPP implementation MOSSO.

Hosting providers can choose to license either VMware Infrastructure Enterprise for comprehensive managed services, or Starter edition for individual Web site hosting.

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