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VMWare Rolls Out Their Largest Product Release 154

opieum writes "VMware has launched Virtual Infrastructure 3.0 today which includes ESX 3.0 and a number of management utilities." Relatedly Jane Walker writes "SearchOpenSource has two authors that try to show why VMware ESX Server is miles ahead of Xen and Virtual Server. Discover what to watch out for when running ESX Server and how to avoid sprawl in your virtual data center."
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VMWare Rolls Out Their Largest Product Release

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:33PM (#15477000)
    ... their new not-so-subtle advertising section.
    • Look in the menu bar on the left for vendors, AMD.. That is there new advertising section, and there is nothing subtle about it... AMD []
    • Re: So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by L.Bob.Rife ( 844620 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:58PM (#15477334)
      As it happens, I can't always get by in my job using only free non-commercial software. Now, I have to assume that several other people here are in the same boat, and commercial software can provide value to them. Given those circumstances, I'd prefer seeing a debate about the relative merits of particular software packages, and discuss it, rather than dismissing a product because it costs money. And if slashdot happens to make a side profit, more power to them.
      • There's nothing wrong with selling andd paying money for Free Software. Red Hat make a living off of it.
      • Xen uses paravirtualization, where the kernel in the guest OS is modified. Xen takes about a 5%-10% performance hit over running an unmodifed OS on bare metal. VMWare traps privileged instructions. For many applications, it only takes a 10-20% performance hit, in others it is closer to 70%. Xen can only run unmodified OSs like Windows on very new CPUs that have virtualization support built in. Xen is hard to set up, no setting up a VM and sticking in your OS install CD, remember, even the installer kernel n
        • This is slightly over-generalized; Xen's paravirtualization takes less of a hit on processors without virtualization support at the expense of having to modify the VM's OS to work correclty with Xen. The same kind of hit is normally taken with running two services on the same machine or using something line User Mode Linux or coLinux meaning that Xen is a great solution for segregating seperate applications on a single server without sacrificing the same performance as VMWare. However on newer processors wi
    • If you think this is new, you've not been paying attention. There have been the odd stories about products that looked for all the world like thinly-veiled adverts. One for an LCD monitor springs to mind; I don't have time to dig out the link (I should be on my way to work even now), but the story was based on a review at Tom's. The summary here painted a glowing picture, but quoted the review very selectively. The review itself was very much less glowing, essentially saying "looks great, shame about the pa
  • by ruckc ( 111190 ) * <> on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:37PM (#15477013) Homepage
    A year ago i used the trial vmware workstation for a while, i liked it, but i wasn't willing to pay the cash to keep it. Just recently VMWare released VMWare Server which works on my XP Pro machine and appears to be a rebranded VMWare Server 5.0 that I used a year ago, for free.
    • It was thier GSX server product rebranded.

      • Then was their GSX Server equal to their workstation product? And if so why are they charging $189 for a workstation product when Server now does the same thing?
        • I suspect vmware server must have a clean-room reimplementation of a lot of features from gsx/workstation - and testing on people who want vmware for free is a great plan -- GSX/ESX still keeps its high reliability and you can work the bugs out of the new code so only the highest quality parts are committed into GSX/ESX's codebase
        • Because M$ gave away thier VM product for free.
        • No. Workstation is geared to developers/testers. For example it supports VM teaming and multiple undo snapshots.
        • from what i can gather recent versions of workstation (i've only used old versions so i dunno how true this is) have some desktop user (e.g. software devloper/tester) orientated features that server doesn't.

          it seems vmware is trying to set up a free taster product and a better premium product in both client and server categories. In the desktop space player is the taster product and workstation is the premium product. In the server space server is the taster product and ESX is the premimum product.
        • by ChipX86 ( 102440 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @11:11PM (#15477384) Homepage
          As one of the developers of both VMware Server 1.0 and Workstation 5.x, let me clear this up.

          (Also, this blog entry [] might help with a few common misconceptions)

          VMware Server, while similar in appearance and sharing much of the same functionality as Workstation, is a completely different product with a different use case and target audience. It is the successor to GSX, and is for people who want to set up, well, servers! The key feature that Server has that Workstation does not is remoting, where you run a server on a computer and connect to it from a separate computer via a remote console or web interface. The VMs can start up with the computer, shut down with it, and can be accessed by multiple users. The VMs also don't require an X installation to run the VMs, nor does it require any sort of UI to be running for the VM to run.

          Workstation has a number of features that Server does not have. Among other differences, it supports multiple snapshots, teams of VMs (where multiple VMs can start up/shutdown together, can be in their own special network with custom NIC speeds and packet loss), and 3D acceleration in the guest (currently experimental, and requires DirectX in the guest for now). We have a lot in the works for the product, and the gap will widen.

          The one difference that people seem to for some reason get upset over is the price. Workstation costs $189, while Server is free. People have asked me why they should get Workstation if Server is free. The answer is that you should get Workstation if it has the features you want. If Server is better suited to your requirements or budget, go ahead and get that. We're not trying to force you into buying Workstation, and we're in no way crippling the VMs. A VM made in Server should work in Workstation and Player just fine. Likewise, a VM made in Workstation should work in Server or Player.

          Workstation is not somehow "better" than Server just because it costs more. It's a different product. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses. Yes, Server is free while Workstation is not, and part of this is because that's where mid-level server virtualization products were heading. Microsoft was considerably lowering the price on Virtual Server in an effort to hurt GSX sales. Xen, while not a huge contender in the enterprise yet, is free and good work is being done on it. Workstation, however, is unique enough in its dev/test features and still has value that we and our customers still feel is worth something. And you'll see that value continue to grow over time, just as you will with our other products.

          I hope that helped you understand why we're still charging for Workstation while Server is free. Choose whichever product you like: Player, Server, Workstation, ACE, ESX.. They're all fine choices, and they all offer solutions to different problems. It's not just about virtualization itself anymore. It's about what you can build on top of it.

          (Opinions expressed here are my own and are not necessarily representative of VMware, yada yada.)
          • and 3D acceleration in the guest (currently experimental, and requires DirectX in the guest for now). We have a lot in the works for the product, and the gap will widen.

            Do you mean a linux host with nvidia/ATI drivers running a 3D accelerated windows guest?

            Considerably more expensive than Cedega, but man that would be cool.

            Keep up the great work, ChipX86 !
            • I'll second this, but I'm not paying any $189. I'd pay $99 for a version of vmware workstation that supported only Direct3D passed through to linux OpenGL. Maybe he meant requires DirectX in the host OS, though. That would be sad, and fairly useless for the majority of us, unless it will pass OpenGL from Linux to Windows - that's still useless to most people; Cygwin provides a free X Windows server with OpenGL acceleration. Your linux applications can be run in a hidden virtual machine, displaying back to

        • "And if so why are they charging $189 for a workstation product when Server now does the same thing?"

          Support. That is the key word in software today. More and more vendors are focusing less on getting license fees and more on generating revenue from support and related services.
    • Vmware does have a player version that will allow you to run vmware virtual machines. The only thing is you have to have a licensed version to create the virtual machines. It helps if you have a friend with a legit version to built VM's for you.
  • by pdbaby ( 609052 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:48PM (#15477064)
    We've started to use more and more virtualisation systems at work -- the vmware solution is by far the most sophisticated and performant we've encountered - and the upgrade path to ESX server is always handy. Clusters are a virtual (a-ha!) doddle to work with once you pretty much virtualise everything (and the performance isn't bad either!).

    Roll on more vmware products to make my life a happier one!
  • by Keaster ( 796594 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @09:57PM (#15477109) Homepage
    By far, and I dont work for EMC or VMware, ESX server and virtual center are Bad Ass. There is nothing greater than 0 to minimal hardware downtime. Finally getting the moneys worth out of the hardware. Being able to place a box in "undoable mode" rocks! (think "oops that patch just hosed my sql cluster" "ok, i'm fine again"). Being able to deploy the same server via image and deploy one in 30 min. Adding disks on the fly and growing disks with 5 or less min of downtime. Facts: 1. ESX Servers are mammals. 2. ESX Servers fight ALL the time. 3. The purpose of the ESX server is to flip out and kill people. I once saw an ESX server flip out when a physical server dropped a flopy disk, and the ESX server killed the whole data center! (insert tounge in cheek) Not to mention the countless Beowulf clusters, countless.
  • People looking to manage VMMs across a range of vendors (VMware, Xen and Microsoft) should take a look at Cassatt []. In particular the XVM [] product.
  • by Stamen ( 745223 ) on Monday June 05, 2006 @10:12PM (#15477179)
    I just replaced 2 old servers, 1 running Windows 2000 server, and one running Linux. I had an IBM X31 Pentium M 1.3x ghz notebook laying around, that had a lot of memory and a 7200rpm 2.5" drive it it. I installed a SATA PCMCIA card and am running my virtual machines off of an external SATA enclosure and drive.

    Now I know what you all are saying, but the X31 works great, and is plenty beefy for the 2 servers it is replacing (a Pentium III 500mhz and an AMD 1ghz). The great thing about it is, it is absolutely quiet, it has its own 12" screen, keyboard and mouse (track-pad), and it has a built in UPS system. I have it hooked up the the same UPS that was running the other 2 servers, so if the power goes out, this thing will probably run a week without power.

    The SATA external drive is fast, so that isn't an issue, and since it is external I place the drive away from the computer and sight for safety.

    VMWare Server is great, and I really appreciate the price (free). I'm currently using Virtual PC for my workstation virtualization (testing, different environments during development, etc), but since I'm so happy with VMWare Server, I'll be switching over to VMWare workstation on my next upgrade. If a client ever needs serious virtualization I'll recommend they give ESX server a try. I think VMWare giving away their basic server is a smart move for them.

    The really nice thing about converting my physical servers to virtual ones is how portable they are now. I literally can suspend my 2 servers, disconnect my external SATA drive, move it to a beefy machine, connect it, and resume the 2 servers on the faster machine; that's slick.
    • I literally can suspend my 2 servers, disconnect my external SATA drive, move it to a beefy machine, connect it, and resume the 2 servers on the faster machine; that's slick.

      That's one of those interesting ideas that we could do with hyper-visors. Sure the technologies Intel and AMD are putting in their chips lets you run 2 OSes on a machine, but what if you just ran one OS but ran it under a hyper-visor letting you do something like you described. Time to upgrade your hardware? Your hardware die? Move th

      • Check out Virtual Iron. []

        They do the hypervisor thing on a cluster - you can take 16 single-cpu boxes and build one big 16-cpu single-system-image server, or two 8-cpu servers, or whatever and you can move the cpus between running virtual machines as well as move running virtual machines between cpus.

        Kind of like the described situation of manually queisceing the laptop and then moving the disk to another box - except tons more flexible.
    • I just replaced 2 old servers, 1 running Windows 2000 server, and one running Linux. I had an IBM X31 Pentium M 1.3x ghz notebook laying around...

      I must say, you must be doing something very different with your servers than I am with mine. The whole idea of replacing two servers with an old dusty laptop certainly gives the impression that your servers aren't exactly "serving" a whole lot. In fact, the primary reason, it seems, that you would use virtualization in the datacenter is because you're somethin

      • Ok so say you split your work up into computer size loads (not unreasonable).

        now half a decade down the line you have various services running various stuff (fileservers, databases, e-mail, im, custom apps etc). Keeping all those old servers running when the tasks could be performed by a far smaller number is wastefull of both physical space (which may be at a premium especilly if your buisness is growing) and electricity (remember in a large building the real cost of electricity fed to your equipment is si
        • "various services running" should have been "various servers running"
        • Very useful! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by shokk ( 187512 )
          The cost of electricity 5 years down the line is probably going to play the biggest role in determining how much hardware you can run AND cool. Consolidating systems into VMs makes much more sense because a VM is not using its entire allocation of memory all the time, so it's easier to save on hardware and energy costs by having fewer systems - the VMWare mantra.

          The only place I have seen that this is not true, is when you have a large compute farm, where each system is dedicated to running just that one j
      • For my clients, what you describe is mostly what they need, more and more bandwidth, more and more processing power. But for me, as small company, the servers, as they were, were over powered. I'd guess most small companies are like this, that is why so many Linux boxen are running on old 486s.

        I wasn't interested in more power, as I think my current setup provides similar performance as the old setup. My goal was to move my servers to a virtualization environment for ease of backup, ease of maintenance,
      • The whole idea of replacing two servers with an old dusty laptop certainly gives the impression that your servers aren't exactly "serving" a whole lot. In fact, the primary reason, it seems, that you would use virtualization in the datacenter is because you're something like a shared hosting provider that needs to isloate accounts for security reasons.

        You obviously don't have any experience with large, inefficient, bureaucratic corporations. At my company, in my department alone, we have at least 25 2GHz

      • Often times one wants a "server" because it means that they can configure and bounce the box at whim, without regards to other users. Not because it's particularly loaded or heavily used.

        As for your cluster reverse-virtualization, it's close to possible with infiniband today, but really, there are instructional latency issues yet.

    • Have any links to how to set that sort of thing up? I'll spend the money for some new hardware if it'll reduce the amount of space my towers are taking up right now; portable is extremely nice if it's really portable cross OS ;-)

      OT, but I was thinking today at work how nice it would be to have a bootable linux CD that could virtualize the windows XP system that's on the hard drive of a customer's machine. Might be a useful tool in fixing the more modern/nasty malware.

  • Parallels and VTx (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Is VMWare shipping with VTx support yet, like I've got WinXP, Linux and OpenBSD running under Parallels, and the performance seems far superior to VMWare.
  • My only interest in virtualization right now (and VMware in particular, since it's the only viable option on my current hardware) is to be able to run Windows Skype 2.0 with webcam.

    Right now I plan to create an entire Windows XP virtual machine just for this - is there a way to create a machine which can run only Skype and reduce memory requirements by this? My hunch says "no" but I always have a feeling I'm missing something when it comes to tracking the VMware product lines.

  • I totally disagree about not assigning dual-cpus to ESX virtual machines. Changing from single-CPU to SMP is a pretty big deal. On Windows it means forcibly changing the HAL, on Linux it means changing to an SMP kernel. Additionally, having two-cpus makes for much smoother running VMs, since the guest operating system can run two-tasks in parallel. Yes, there is a performance hit for adding two CPUs. No, its not very big. Most certainly, if its an issue buy more hardware.

    For example, doing something like ru
    • by Anonymous Coward
      You can use dual CPU if the applications support it and you may see an improvement. Think about it though, if you actually have a dual CPU machine, the single CPU you assign to the guest OS sees one CPU but it can be either of the physical CPUs when it needs a CPU (when can assign a specific CPU or just any single CPU which will be either CPU that is currently available for the guest OS). Assigning 2 CPUs to the guest OS is fine as well but when the guest OS or the application running on the guest OS requ
    • So his example of a reporter box that runs once a week not needing two CPUs... sure it doesn't need two CPUs.. unless you decide you want to do something else on the box while its running the report.

      Not to mention that one of the things they talk about in the article (yes, I RTFA, gasp) is that a lot of enterprises are creating a new vm for every task just because they can; the result is that you pay for more windows licenses (if you use windows) and use a lot more memory and other resources in overhe

  • Anyone know when/if their software will support OS X? I mean Parallels is all nice and everything, and BootCamp is great, but I really have been hoping to run Workstation on my MacBook Pro. That's the money shot that will help Apple out a lot. Live in Mac land day-to-day, and when you need to run that one app you can't get on Mac (in my case it's Visio) you've got it in a window. That's what I can't wait for.
  • by john_anderson_ii ( 786633 ) on Tuesday June 06, 2006 @12:25AM (#15477615)
    Not too long ago I ran the discovery and benchmarking on a big project to move the large internet credit card processor I work for to either Xen or VMWare ESX server. From the first benchmark to the last stress test, Xen outperformed and outgunned ESX at every turn. Here's the kicker! We had paid VMWare engineers helping us to configure and tweak the ESX boxes. As for help from Xen? Well, I had the user's manual and a subscription to their mailing list.


    Sure, the VMWare servers had nice pretty management tools that were probably a couple hundred yards ahead of Xen's CLI tools, but this company doesn't exactly tolerate idiots. The unix guys here are more than capbable of migrating to Xen, compiled from source with a customized kernel, with no problem. The command line configuration and live migration utilities are more than adequate considering we already have SSH access to the boxes in the back. There was no need to change the firewall configs to allow us VMWare console access or anything.


    I ran series of benchmarks for the following applications: MySQL, Apache, Lighttpd, perl and php. All of the bechmarks were ran on the same hardware, I just re-imaged the two machines multiple times. Xen won in every race. As a matter of fact, on the dual core Opeteron SunFire the Xen vm was a whopping 600 seconds ahead of the VMWare vm at running MySQL's sql-bench suite.


    Xen 3.0 is more stable, IMHO than VMWare. Though neither platform crashed or hosed, the ESX box had a lot of trouble keeping time via ntp and had some problems with disk I/O.


    I reported the time problem several times to the VMWare techs assigned to our case, and they assured me that it was a host os issue. Funny that this article mentions that ESX < 3 has a problem keeping time with a 2.6 kernel isn't it?


    Later this week I'll be recieving the first Intel VT enabled server we purchased. I'll soon see if any OS or any kernel (including GRSec [] patched) kernels can be booted under Xen. If that is case, my company is likely is to purchase XenSource's commercial products.
  • Scott M. Herold: If you're using Linux and there is a dire need to use a 2.6 kernel in a VM [virtual machine], wait for ESX 3.0. VMware ESX Server has been plagued with time-keeping and performance issues that are reportedly resolved in the 3.0 version. I have personally configured and run 2.4 kernels inside of virtual machines that performed as expected for some large organizations only to see the same applications run degraded on a 2.6 kernel.

    About time.
    I have only one ESX server, it has only been down tw
    • Have you tried putting: tools.syncTime = "TRUE" in your .vmx file? I found that fixed our time problems in some Linux distros including a 2.6 kernel one.

      ESX 2.5 has some problems with 2.6 kernels. The latest patch release fixes some but I've downgraded all my Linux to 2.4 since I don't need to 2.6 really. One particularly nasty problem I had was high network i/o would cause the physical NIC in ESX to shutdown, effectively killing all vm's that used it. One vm could cause all your machines that used that
      • Yes, I have tried that and it did help a bit but not enough. I think I have spent about 2 days to get it to work trying all sorts of things. I then decided not to spend any more time on it since it is "just" a server for testing.
        We have been thinking about using vmware for many of our servers, but then some more urgent projects came in the way. But I will be bringing it back at the end of the year. So I have time to play with V.3 until then.
        Besides from the disk issue I had, the virtual machines have been r
  • Herold: [In environments with] heterogeneous operating systems, VMware is the clear leader. Microsoft's recent addition of Linux support to Virtual Server shows they are moving in the right direction. While Xen has consistently mentioned that they have been able to get Windows booting, it has been eerily quiet lately on that front." []
    A port of Windows XP was developed for an earlier version of Xen, but is not available for release due to licence restrictions.

    If t

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