Bryan Doerr, CTO of IT infrastructure-as-a-service provider Savvis, said that the new VMware release plugs in some missing pieces in the current virtualized computing structure.
"At the highest level, the virtualization of servers in the form of a hypervisor is already there," Doerr told eWEEK. "But as you dive down though and get into the details of building enterprise grade cloud services, you start to see that VMware has plugged in new pieces that are going to be very enabling."
Two of these new pieces are the ability of vSphere to connect on demand for additional computing power from outside-the-cloud sources, plus much-improved fault tolerance capability.
"The previous version wasn't as rich and as complete for the breadth of application problem in the typical data center. This really helps companies like Savvis do its job in better fashion," Doerr said.
Savvis features secure data centers in prime locations, enterprise class server and storage platforms, fully managed network solutions, a portfolio of security tools, a suite of management tools, and a professional services team.
An avalanche of storage and data center-related companies in addition to Savvis also announced compatibility of their systems with vSphere 4. As of midday April 20, a partial list included NetApp, 3PAR, Uptime Software, StoneFly, Mellanox, and Reflex VMC.
Analyst 'Blown Away' by Demo
Lew Smith, an analyst and practice manager of virtualization solutions for Interphase Systems, a consulting service sprovider, told eWEEK that he was "blown away" by the demo he saw last week.
"Thanks to all the new partnerships VMware has made with external vendors -- like the Savvises of the world -- vSphere can allow customers to federate with their clouds," Smith said. "So what this means is, when I'm running vSphere in my data center today, if I feel the need to 'burst' to an external cloud for additional processing power, I will now have the ability to reach out to one of these third parties and utilize resources within their data center.
"The only thing I'd have to work out, of course, is the connectivity, making sure I have the proper bandwidth in my cloud, et cetera. That's a huge benefit."
Smith said vSphere 4 is basically the ESX 3.5 server with "many more updates to it."
"I'm not trying to over-simplify vSphere, but during some conversations I had with customers there was some confusion about what vSphere would actually be. For all intents and purposes, vSphere is that next iteration of ESX Server," Smith said.
Smith said he thought the most compelling new feature is its fault-tolerance capacity.
"Fault-tolerance gives me the ability to run a shadow copy of an existing virtual machine on another host within my cloud or data center," Smith said.
"So if my primary host fails, I can immediately, seamlessly, without any impact to my business, fail over to that secondary shadow copy. That now becomes my primary, and vSphere will now spin up another shadow copy on another host."
So, for all intents and purposes, users are constantly running two copies of the workload -- but only one live copy of that virtual machine, Smith said.
vSphere 4 will be available in the second quarter in six editions, starting at $995 for three physical servers for small offices.
Editor's note: This story was updated to add reaction from industry partners and analysts.