vSphere 4.0 Release a Big Event

The CEOs of Cisco, EMC and Dell, along with a senior executive of Intel will gather at VMware’s Palo Alto headquarters this Tuesday to introduce vSphere 4.0, the renamed and revised Virtual Infrastructure 4.0, according to sources familiar with the event.

It’s quite a coming-out party for virtualization software. The guest list includes EMC (NYSE: EMC) CEO Joe Tucci, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) chief John Chambers, Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) CEO Michael Dell and Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s (NASDAQ: INTC) Digital Enterprise Group.

VMware (NYSE: VMW) has not said publicly what the event is about and spokespeople were not available as of press time.

vSphere 4.0, the renamed Virtual Infrastructure software, has been upgraded to accommodate more powerful hardware. The previous version, 3.5, had serious limitations: it couldn’t handle more than 64GB of memory or four CPU sockets.

Over the past year, VMware has trickled out bits and pieces of what the next version of the software would include, such as support for eight-way virtual symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) and 256GB of memory, although with Cisco’s new blades supporting up to 384GB, that limit may be raised.

Not only has total memory support been raised, it can be increased on virtual machines without having to restart them. A virtual server can have its memory capacity increased a few gigabytes while running and not require a reboot.

On the management side, there will be support for clustering vCenter servers and using the Service Profile feature in Cisco’s Unified Computing Systems, admins will be able to create and provision virtual machines using new host profiles and guest templates.

vSphere 4.0 and Cisco are really joined at the hip. Another are of support is a distributed virtual switch and implementation with Cisco’s Nexus 1000V switch. With a distributed virtual switch, administrators can set up host and virtual networks once rather than having to set them up on each host in a cluster.

Conspicuously absent is HP, which is headquartered just a few miles away in Palo Alto. Cisco’s decision to enter the bladed market has chilled relations between the company and HP and IBM. HP’s decision to promote its ProCurve networking hardware market was one of the reasons for Cisco entering the blade market to begin with, and IBM is now cozying up to Brocade.

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