VMware Tries Its Hand at Utility Computing

The world's largest virtualization vendor is offering its software to third-party hosting companies to offer virtualization capabilities to customers.

VMware is looking to bring its virtualization capabilities to a much larger audience by partnering with hosting providers.

On June 6, the Palo Alto, Calif., company will detail its Service Provider Program, or SPP, which started a number of months ago with a handful of hosting providers that included a variety of Web hosting companies, telecommunications businesses and outsourcing businesses.

During the beta trial, the VMware SPP grew to include 20 hosting providers in North America, Europe and Australia.

Utility computing allows hosting providers to use a large number of servers to create an environment where data center resources can be pooled and easily deployed to meet business demands. The customers then pay only for the resources they use.

These utility computing hosting providers have also found uses for their services in providing backup for a companys data in the case of a disaster or emergency. Utility computing can also be used to meet government-mandated data backup requirements, such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

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Through its new program, VMware provides its virtualization technology—virtualization is the ability to run multiple applications and operating systems on a single physical server—to its hosting partners. Those hosting companies can then provide virtual environments to their customers by using VMwares Infrastructure 3 software suite, which allows for multiple virtual machines to be hosted and managed on the same physical server.

Since the partitions are isolated, if one virtual machine fails, it will not affect the other virtual environments hosted on the physical server. In addition, the hosting providers themselves can partition servers to provide additional compute resources to customers as needed without tapping into or adding more physical servers into the data center.

In addition, VMwares SPP offers flexibility in how the hosting companies allocate their own resources throughout their data centers, said Bogomil Balkansky, VMwares director of product marketing.

"We think that this aligns very nicely with the model that many hosting providers have developed," said Balkansky. "What we are doing is providing a new business model and then we aligned this model with how the various hosting providers get their revenue."

One of the first hosting companies to join VMwares new program was Rackspace, of San Antonio, Texas.

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Lew Moorman, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development at Rackspace, said his company had been using VMwares software for its internal infrastructure for some time and has now begun incorporating those virtualization capabilities into its hosting business through the SPP.

"Its an environment where you are reacting to things very quickly. With virtualization, you can separate the applications from the hardware and if you have to upgrade, it can be done very seamlessly," Moorman added. "When you think about the future of virtualization, it has a lot to do with offering more reliability and more flexibility while being able to support some of these really big applications."

VMware is offering its Infrastructure 3 software suite to hosting companies in two versions. The Enterprise Version includes VMwares ESX Server and other tools such as the companys VirtualCenter management console and its VMotion live migration feature. The Standard Version only offers the ESX Server.

The VMware Service Provider Program is immediately available from VMware. Company executives declined to discuss the programs pricing scale.

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