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VMware is looking more and more like a first-rate enterprise software maker.

The virtual machine specialist has followed big boys such as Sun, HP and Veritas with a new product that lets users manage numerous servers from one console. The VMware Control Center product has entered beta testing and should start shipping later this year.

VMware appears to have done well during the IT spending slump as customers turned to its high-end ESX Server and midrange GSX Server products as server consolidation tools. The company's products allow users to slice up servers into many partitions or "virtual machines." This makes it easier for users to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single server.

No less than IBM, HP and Dell have backed VMware as a close partner in the Intel server market. The company has a large head-start over Microsoft, which earlier this year acquired the assets of fellow virtual machine software maker Connectix.

With Control Center, VMware is following the path of larger software makers by trying to centralize server management. Users will be able to see all of the virtual machines running in a network from a single console. As is standard with VMware products, administrators can tweak the amount of processing power, bandwidth and memory available to any given virtual machine.

Users will also be able to use VMware's VMotion technology to shift applications between virtual machines. Should a little more horsepower be required for a given app, the admin can make a few clicks with a mouse and have the software up and running on a higher-end box.

All of the standard performance monitors and system health checks are built in as well. ®

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