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VMware: Virtual Data Center OS ready for prime time

At Virtualization Forum 2008, VMware's enterprise marketing director says the market is ready for the Virtual Data Center Operating System.

BOSTON -- VMware Inc.'s Virtual Data Center Operating System is not -- as some partners have said -- pie in the sky, the company said at the Virtualization Forum 2008 on Thursday.

VMware announced its Virtual Data Center Operating System strategy at VMworld 2008 in September, with CEO Paul Maritz declaring that "the traditional operating system has all but disappeared." At the time, partners said the strategy would eventually help them sell more complete virtualization solutions. But there were questions about whether the market was ready for such a dramatic shift.

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During his Virtualization Forum 2008 keynote, enterprise marketing director Bob Stephens said the strategy's time is now.

"The Virtual Data Center Operating System is not something that's way ahead in the future," he said. "It's almost here today, and most of the pieces will be here shortly."

VMware describes the Virtual Data Center Operating System as a strategy that uses improved networking and storage capabilities to help users connect and manage all of the virtual machines in their environments. Stephens made sure he clarified that point to customers during his speech.

"That's not the name of a product," he said. "The Virtual Data Center Operating System is a way of doing business."

Even though it's not a product, it is an operating system, because it provides application and infrastructure services, he added.

Stephens also addressed the increased competition VMware faces from Microsoft, which released its own virtualization hypervisor, Hyper-V, earlier this year. He said that VMware ESXi has the advantage over Hyper-V because of its much smaller footprint -- 32 MB versus 2.2 GB for Hyper-V -- and its density. ESXi loads one copy of each OS and application it runs, which reduces replicated code and lets the hypervisor run more virtual machines, he said.

In another Virtualization Forum 2008 keynote, IDC research vice president Michelle Bailey discussed the top opportunities for selling in the virtualization market. With the economy the way it is, cutting costs is customers' top priority, she said.

"Virtualization is really going to be at the heart of this," Bailey said, "and for a very good reason: It's going to save people money."

IDC predicts that spending on physical servers will continue to grow, from around $35 million this year to more than $40 million in 2012. The costs to manage, power and cool those servers -- especially in older data centers not designed for today's usage -- will also rise, driving even more demand for virtualization, Bailey said.

"Virtualization, along with consolidation, is the No. 1 solution for data centers these days," she said.

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