VMware in the week of Feb. 6 will roll out the beta release of a free virtualization tool designed to give users a taste of what the technology can do for them.
VMware Server—the companys second free virtualization tool—allow users to partition a single server into multiple virtual servers, in both Windows and Linux environments.
VMware Server, which will be generally available later in the first half of the year, follows the announcement in October of VMware Player, a product that enables IT administrators to run VMware instances already installed on a physical server.
VMware Player has been generally available for about six weeks.
"Were going to bring virtualization to all users out there," said Dan Chu, senior director of developer and ISV products.
Virtualization is designed to enable businesses to increase server utilization and reduce server sprawl by running multiple workloads on a single system.
The technology is quickly gaining ground. Analyst firm IDC, of Framingham, Mass., predicted that businesses will spend $15 billion on virtualization technology by 2009.
VMware has reaped the benefits of this trend. According to President Diane Greene, the company has more than 20,000 enterprise customers and 4 million users, and 90 percent of enterprise customers are running VMware virtualization tools in a production environment.
About 25 percent of those customers have standardized on VMware, Chu said.
The company is also bringing in a wide range of competitors, who are pushing virtualization beyond the server realm and into other data center resources, including I/O, applications and storage. VMware is owned by storage giant EMC. The open-source community is also pushing the Xen virtualization technology, which is also free.
Chu said the goal of VMware Server is to introduce virtualization to users who may have been uncertain whether to pursue it. "Its free … but its not an entry-level product," he said. "Its a path for enterprise-level virtualization. … As people experience the initial benefits, theyll very quickly migrate to full deployments."
Whereas VMwares enterprise products, such as ESX Server and the VirtualCenter management software, enable users to bring virtualization to their data centers on a large scale, VMware Server is designed for smaller deployments.
The software enables users to partition and manage multiple virtual environments on a single physical system, and supports standard x86 hardware, as well as Linux and Windows operating environments.
It also supports 64-bit virtual machines and Intels chip-level Virtualization Technology product. The chip maker is rolling out the technology on most of its processor platforms, including Xeon and Itanium.
Chu said VMware also is working with Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices, which is planning to put virtualization technology—dubbed Pacifica—onto its processors later this year. VMware will support that technology as well, he said.
The chip-level virtualization from AMD and Intel should result in better performance for virtual machines running software from VMware and others, according to analysts.
In addition, VMware is offering free downloads of pre-built virtual appliances for such tasks as networking, and running Web and e-mail servers.
"What this gives is the basic ability to partition servers," Chu said.
VMware Player has helped the company spread the virtualization message, he said. Since the product became generally available six weeks ago, there have been more than a million downloads, and 70 percent of those downloading the tool have never used VMware before, Chu said.