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VMware's new Infrastructure 3 offers features-plus

VMware's new Infrastructure suite offers several enhancements, including Storage VMotion, Update Manager, Distributed Power Management, and Guided Consolidation.

On Monday, VMware Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., officially announced the upcoming release of its VMware Infrastructure suite. In addition changes to VMware's core ESX hypervisor platform and new bundling options, VMware has made enhancements to its VMware Infrastructure 3.

For more on VMware's ESX and VI3 announcements:
VMware overhauls its ESX hypervisor

VMware rejiggers its bundles and pricing

For the vast majority of VMware shops that will purchase more than just the ESX hypervisor and also buy VMware Infrastructure 3, VMware has added several new goodies to the mix:

  • VMware Storage VMotion;
  • VMware Update Manager;
  • VMware Distributed Power Management; and
  • VMware Guided Consolidation.

Storage VMotion, which some users may remember from when they upgraded from ESX 2.5 and 3.x, allows users to migrate virtual disks from one array to another without taking down the virtual machine. In the short term, Storage VMotion could be used when adding or upgrading a storage array. Down the road, Mark Bowker, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) in Milford, Mass., says it could also be used as the underpinning of a tiered-storage approach, where different virtual machines (VMs) are assigned to different quality-of-service characteristics and whose virtual disks are moved dynamically between arrays depending on performance needs.

Meanwhile, Update Manager helps coordinate the patching and upgrading of ESX as well as of Windows and Linux (i.e., Red Hat) guests. The technology works by scanning the environment and noting the systems' baseline configurations, explained Bogomil Balkansky, VMware's senior director of product marketing. Then, through an agreement with network configuration and security company Shavlik Technologies, users are notified of new patches available for their environment, which they can then download and install.

Beta tester, Miami-based managed hosting provider Terremark Worldwide Inc., has tried Update Manager and said it integrates nicely with VMotion live migration and Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS). "It's really nice," said Jason Lochhead, principal architect at Terremark. "You just vacate all your VMs with VMotion, put the host in maintenance mode, do your patch and then put it back in the cluster," Lochhead said.

Speaking of DRS, VMware Infrastructure's new Distributed Power Management is built on top of it. But instead of using VMotion to move VMs for load balancing and maintenance purposes, DPM moves VMs with the aim of saving electricity by consolidating VMs and powering down any unnecessary hosts. Then, when usage spikes again, DPM powers the servers back up and redistributes the VMs across them. VMware lists DPM as an experimental feature.

Lochhead said Terremark probably won't use the DPM feature but can imagine that many shops would. "We tend to run things pretty dense here," he said. "But if you're a nine-to-five shop, it definitely makes sense to turn it on and save yourself that [power] resource."

Finally, VMware is now including a planning tool called Guided Consolidation. Based on VMware Capacity Planner, it discovers a current, nonvirtualized environment and then makes recommendations about how to deploy VMs on a new ESX environment. Designed for smaller shops or those that don't have a lot of virtualization skills, it also includes VMware's physical-to-virtual tool to help shops convert existing workloads into virtual machines, said VMware's Balkansky.

According to VMware, VI3 will be generaly available later this year.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Alex Barrett, News Director.


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