Software maker VMWare will release a major upgrade to its ESX virtual machine software, along with a product designed to improve VMWare's performance on multiprocessor machines.
ESX 2.0 will begin shipping today (21 July), according to VMWare senior director of product management Michael Mullany.
It will feature a management interface, support for IBM and HP blade servers, as well as Network Interface Card (NIC) teaming software that allows VMWare users to better control the amount of network bandwidth they make available to each virtual machine.
The ESX software can be used to create up to 64 virtual system images on a single Intel server so that users can run many different systems, or copies of the same operating system on the same box. It has proved popular for system administrators looking to consolidate many different servers onto one machine.
VMWare has also announced two software products, the Virtual SMP and P2V Assistant.
Virtual SMP will overcome a traditional architectural hurdle in VMWare by letting applications that are designed to run on more than one processor, like databases for example, use up to two processors while running on top of VMWare's virtual machines.
"Until now, virtual machines could only handle up to one CPU's worth of workload," said Mullany.
The P2V Assistant software will let VMWare users take a snapshot of a computer's system image and will then automatically convert it to a VMWare virtual machine, Mullany said.
It could be used for moving servers onto virtual machines, or even as a way of taking snapshots of systems for debugging or disaster recovery, he added.
Unlike VMWare's other products, however, P2V Assistant will only be sold through VMWare's channel partners and will not immediately be available for direct orders, Mullany said. The complexity of the software is behind this decision, he explained. "You basically need to be trained to use it."
The NIC teaming feature, as well as ESX 2.0 enhancements which allow VMWare to better manage multiple storage devices, will be important for Allan Campbell, the director of IT architecture at MassMutual Financial Group.
"When you run a dozen or 20 virtual machines on a single physical machine, then the network interfaces or the storage interfaces become bottlenecks," he said. "By supporting NIC teaming you can effectively create a bigger pipe to the network."
MassMutual is using VMWare to consolidate 75 test and development servers, running the Windows and Linux operating systems, onto four eight-way IBM x440 systems.
Pricing for the latest version of ESX will start at $3,750 (£2,363) for a two-CPU machine. Pricing for the Virtual SMP starts at $1,250 (£787). Pricing for P2V Assistant was not released.
Robert McMillian writes for IDG News Service