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VMware licensing, vSphere 4.1 dominate server virtualization news

The top server virtualization news stories of 2010 included VMware per-VM licensing and pricing and the release of vSphere 4.1.

By Colin Steele, Senior Site Editor

Check out the first part of our top 10 server virtualization news stories of 2010.

5. Citrix releases XenServer 5.6
Citrix Systems' XenServer 5.6 debuted at the Citrix Synergy conference in May. With the new release, Citrix improved performance of the free edition, which can now support up to 256 GB of RAM per host, 64 logical processors and single-root I/O virtualization. The company also added dynamic memory control, Host Power Management and other features to several editions -- including the new Advanced edition, which costs $1,000 per server.

Although XenServer was still a distant third in the server virtualization market at the end of 2010, Citrix did make strides throughout the year. In fact, XenServer's market share actually grew at a faster clip than either VMware's or Microsoft's, according to IDC.

4. VMware to support Hyper-V?
In October, virtualization blogger William Lam uncovered some potentially market-shaking code hidden deep within VMware vSphere 4.1: a string of commands that can detect whether Microsoft Hyper-V or Citrix XenServer are running as guest hypervisors.

Naturally, the question that arose from that discovery was: Will VMware support Hyper-V? VMware wouldn't talk about it, but some experts said the code could signal a major shift in VMware's focus, from its own hypervisor to overall virtual data center management. Others cautioned not to read too much into a few lines of code.

3. Hyper-V to get Dynamic Memory
The big thing missing from Hyper-V R2 is an answer to VMware's memory overcommit feature. That's expected to change in early 2011, when Microsoft adds Dynamic Memory to Hyper-V R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Microsoft first started talking about Hyper-V Dynamic Memory in March, and the company officially announced Dynamic Memory in Hyper-V R2 SP1 at TechEd 2010 in June. It's important to note that Dynamic Memory addresses the same problem as memory overcommit, but does so in a different way. Users set minimum and maximum memory limits for VMs, and the technology automatically allocates memory to those VMs based on need.

2. vSphere 4.1 released
VMware released vSphere 4.1, the latest version of its server virtualization platform, in June. In vSphere 4.1, VMware updated the Storage and Network I/O Control features, which let users set quality-of-service priorities for VMs when resources are tight. The company also added the popular vMotion live migration feature to the vSphere 4.1 Essentials Plus and Standard editions, which target small and medium-sized businesses.

Users said these new vSphere 4.1 features and changes were welcome, but some had hoped VMware would focus more on improving management capabilities.

1. vCenter products go to per-VM licensing, pricing
At the same time as the vSphere 4.1 release, VMware also announced a new per-VM licensing and pricing model for most of its vCenter portfolio. Previously, users had to buy these products on a per-processor basis, and VMware said the change would more closely align costs with usage.

The change sparked a lot of debate among VMware users. Some said it would water down virtualization's cost savings, but others thought it would give them more flexibility. Per-VM licensing and pricing, which went into effect late this year, applies to the following vCenter products: Capacity IQ, AppSpeed, Site Recovery Manager and the Ionix management line acquired from EMC.

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