Feeds

VMware moves to free with Server product

'Take that, Xen and Microsoft'

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

As anticipated, VMware has created a free version of its server partitioning software in the hopes of drawing new customers to its technology. In addition, the move counters open source rival XenSource, which gives away core server virtualization technology known as a hypervisor.

The free product will be called VMware Server and will join the Workstation, GSX Server and ESX Server products. VMware Server relates most closely to the midrange GSX Server product often used by VMware customers to test and and develop software packages. The high-end ESX Server is used for production applications and actually slots in below operating systems such as Windows and Linux, whereas GSX Server and the upcoming VMware Server run on top of the OS.

When plugging VMware Server, which arrives in beta only for the moment, company representatives insisted that we think of the free option as a way to promote virtualization technology.

"There are huge segments of the audience not aware of virtualization," said Raghu Raghuram, a vice president at VMware. "Some people have very naive notions about what virtualization is all about. We are planning to change that."

VMware first hinted that it may be heading in this direction in our interview with company chief Diane Greene. When asked about the free product possibility, Greene said, "I don't know if that's what we'll do, but I don't see anything bad about it. I don't know how the software may get packaged. One thing for sure is that we'll keep adding a lot of value. If our software doesn't add value, then fine. We'll do other software. I think we are adding unbelievable value right now."

We like to think she took our advice.

VMware Server should get more people to try out this technology that lets them run multiple operating systems and applications on a single x86 server. More importantly, however, from a competitive standpoint is its strength against Xen - the free hypervisor for Linux systems.

The VMware Server, for example, has a feature not even present in GSX Server. It supports Intel's VT technology for improving virtualization performance. In addition, it supports 64-bit guest operating systems - including Solaris x86 - and has support for virtual SMPs. So, it's not just some crippled, low-end product.

Raghuram downplayed VMware Server as a response to Xen.

"Xen is only for serious, bleeding-edge Linux enthusiasts," he said. "You have to live with a highly unstable open source product that's of little interest to the average system administrator."

It should be noted, however, that Xen will ship as a standard package in the upcoming server releases of Red Hat and SuSE, giving XenSource an immediate route to customers wanting to try the technology. Xen also boasts very high performance. (Incidentally, VMware gained traction by becoming popular first with Linux enthusiasts, so it might not be such a bad play for XenSource.)

The release of VMware Server might give Microsoft some grief as well. Redmond has been offering price breaks on its Virtual Server product. Free beats price breaks every time.

VMware made the move to free more quickly than expected, and it has done so in an interesting way. It could have issued a free version of ESX Server and turned off some key features. Instead, it's simply going after the "try before you buy" crowd that might also be experimenting with Xen.

VMware's decision buys it some more time to keep selling ESX Server at full price. It does seem though that it will lose out on those Linux customers who are ready to embrace virtualization and would prefer to use Xen for free instead of paying for ESX Server. It's hard to gauge how big of an audience that is.

VMware also has something called the VMware Player, which allows customers to run but not create virtual machines for free. It has been downloaded more than 1m times, according to the company.

Next week, a beta version of VMware Server will be available here. The product is expected to be fully baked in the first half of this year, and VMware expects to sell plenty of support contracts behind it. Over time, it will effectively replace GSX Server. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives
Oracle's Linux boss says Larry's Linux isn't just for Oracle apps anymore
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.