As virtualized infrastructures grow in complexity, the capability to simplify will likely be the value-add that differentiates the market leaders from the wannabes. The rollout and subsequent management of the virtual infrastructure will no doubt be part of the decision-making process, as will how well the virtual infrastructure integrates with the rest of the hardware and applications in the data center.
To that end, VMware (whose ecosystem of product offerings is quite complex and overlapping) this week unveiled a new(ish) product and updated the VMware Infrastructure 3.0.1 family.
Key enhancements include 64-bit support and a host of management and migration tools, including the capability to upgrade ESX server without taking it offline.
To simplify the deployment side, VMware Converter 3, was released in public beta. It is expected to be generally available within the next six months.
Although the product packaging is new, VMware Converter's functionality is not. The conversion tool combines two virtualization tools already in circulation: P2V Assistant and Virtual Machine Importer. VMware P2V Assistant takes a snapshot of a physical system and changes it into a virtual machine so administrators don't have to reinstall and reconfigure applications, and VMware Virtual Machine Importer takes virtual machines from various sources and configures them as the destinations for VMware software.
At its core, VMware Converter "is a utility that facilitates the transition from physical to virtual," Karthik Rau, senior director of infrastructure products and solutions at VMware, told ServerWatch.
The product is designed to meet many needs. Enterprises can use it to do the following:
- Create VMware virtual machines from physical machines running any flavor of Windows
- Import older VMware virtual machine formats to new VMware virtual machine formats
- Convert VMware virtual machines from third-party formats, including Microsoft Virtual Server and Virtual PC and Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery
- Move virtual machines across different development, test and production environments
- Populate new virtual machine environments quickly from a large directory of virtual machine appliances
VMware Converter's chief benefit is that the software performs these tasks without requiring the source machine to reboot even in geographically dispersed environments. Remote cloning features allow machines to be cloned from a remote console without manually using a boot CD.
When VMwareConverter goes gold in the first half of 2007, it will be made part of VirtualCenter Management Server, Rau said. VMware will continue to provide a free version of the product, but that version will allow only one conversion at a time. The enterprise edition, as well as the beta, will be able to perform multiple simultaneous conversions.
For now, VMwareConverter will be offered with VMware Infrastructure, which the vendor this week bumped to version 3.0.1. It also released ESX Server 3.0.1 and VMware VirtualCenter 2.0.1, both of which are part of the suite.
Starting with this release, ESX users can use VMware VMotion technology to upgrade from VMware ESX Server 2.x hosts and storage directly to VMware ESX Server 3.0.1. Previously, this was supported for test environments, Rau said.
Also included in the release is support for 64-bit architecture versions of Windows, Red Hat, SUSE and Sun Solaris.
VMware Infrastructure 3 has been localized in German and Japanese and is expected to be available later this month. ISCSI self-certification is also available for vendors, Rau said.
VMWorld is a mere month away. No doubt we'll be hearing much from oft-regarded virtualization in the weeks to follow.
Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been following the virtualization space since 2001.