VMware releases free, low-end server: VMware Server

To replace its now discontinued GSX Server, VMware has released VMware Server, a free download of its server virtualization software.

VMware Inc. has released VMware Server, a free version of its server virtualization software that succeeds the company's now discontinued GSX Server.

Customers can now download a copy of VMware Server, which has been in beta since February. The software lets users provision a single physical server as multiple machines. It also supports 64-bit guest operating systems, including Windows, Linux, NetWare and Solaris, among its features.

VMware Server runs on a host operating system, which differs from ESX Server, the company's other server virtualization software. ESX Server runs directly on the hardware. VMware Server competes with Microsoft's free Virtual Server 2005 R2, which Microsoft released earlier this year.

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The beta version of VMware Server has been downloaded at least 700,000 times, VMware officials said. Most of that initial interest has likely been among customers still exploring virtualization and who want to test out the technology before adopting it on a larger scale, said Tony Iams, vice president and senior analyst for Ideas International Inc. of Rye Brook, N.Y.

Iams said VMware hopes the server software will impress users enough to upgrade to ESX Server, a more sophisticated, for-pay product. Because ESX Server doesn't require a host operating system to run, it gets a performance boost over VMware Server.

"Most critical workloads will still be run on ESX Server," said Iams.

VMware Server supports Intel Corp.'s VT, the chipmaker's virtualization-enhanced processor, though it doesn't guarantee performance. Other features include the ability to capture snapshots of a virtual machine and instantly roll back the machine to a previous state. It also supports Microsoft's virtual machine format as well as Symantec Corp's LiveState Recovery, a disaster recovery tool.

While the VMware Server software is free, customers who want product support will still have to pay: Support fees start at $350 for a one-year subscription for two processors.

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