Thanks to a partnership with Sun Microsystems, strategic moves around the emerging dual-core processing market, significant steps down the paravirtualization highway and a push toward advancing virtualization standards adoption, this summer was a loud and busy one for VMware.
Virtualization -- the use of software to emulate hardware or a total computer environment other than the one the software is actually running in - has been pegged one of the IT industry's hot trends because of how well it helps data center managers tap into hardware they usually fail to fully utilize. VMware, a subsidiary of EMC Corp., sensed that the mainstream data center market was ready to accept the technology on a much broader scope and used the traditionally lazy summer lull to expand its reach.
"Virtualization is already mainstream today. If you look at our customer base, there are over 10,000 customers using virtualization software and over 3 million end users," said Raghu Raghuram, VMware's senior director of strategy and market development. "And the number is growing pretty explosively." .
Pund-IT Research analyst Charles King gave VMware kudos for what he said is a proactive approach to promoting "really interesting technology." And King said the company's decision to trumpet its enhanced portfolio, while most of the IT industry was taking its annual siesta, makes more sense than many might realize.
"It's a great time to be making noise," King said. "If you're the only one in the stadium, you can sound pretty loud, no matter what's happening on field."
VMware has made a play for the hearts, and wallets, of those ready to explore virtualization in the emerging dual-core market. The company has announced it will price its server products per-socket or per-CPU, rather than charging by individual core, which it said it will allow customers to utilize dual-core technology without incurring any additional licensing costs.
"We are doing the right thing by the customers. Customers want to adopt virtualization, and adopting the kind of pricing methodology we have allows customers to take advantage of their hardware improvements at no additional cost. It's better bang for the buck," Raghuram said.
In addition to making popular pricing moves, VMware is also broadening its partner base and making that partnership more inclusive.
Sun -- the last major vendor to sign on to support its software -- recently announced it will provide VMware's server virtualization capabilities for its x86 servers and the Sun StorEdge 6920 system. It also plans to support Solaris as a guest OS on future VMware server and desktop products.
Industry experts said bringing Sun into the fold was a nod to virtualization's growing influence and a sign Sun is listening to its customer base, which had voiced interest in running VMware on its machines.
"There's a heightened awareness of virtual applications in the data center," said Graham Lovell, Sun's senior director of x64 systems, following the announcement. "VMware has leading technologies to do that."
The Sun deal came two days after the company unveiled its Community Source program, in which it would work with vendors such as Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco Systems Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, Intel Corp. and Novell Inc. by providing them access to VMware ESX Server source code and interfaces in an attempt to advance open virtualization standards.
VMware topped off its hectic summer by detailing plans to support paravirtualization -- a form of virtualization that lets operating systems know they are running on top of a virtualized layer as opposed to virtualized operating systems, assuming that they run on native hardware. The feature will be available for Linux and Solaris x86 operating systems in future releases of its Workstation, GSX server and ESX server products. A paravirtualized operating system is specifically optimized to run in a virtualized environment.
In VMware's eyes, the question of whether virtual machines are a widespread reality in the data center market has already been answered with a resounding yes. The company's move now is aimed at attacking this emerging market and solidifying its place atop the heap.
"They've gotten ahead of the curve, and I see what they're doing as evidence as them continuing to be ahead of curve," King said. "The way to lead market is to get ahead of everything."
Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Luke Meredith, News Writer