August 23, 2011, 6:10 AM — As we rapidly approach yet another VMworld conference and the general release of VMware vSphere 5, it's clear that VMware hasn't been resting on its laurels. The newest version of vSphere builds on the strong foundations of vSphere 4.1, showcasing new management and automation features and levels of scalability.
Almost to a feature, the new capabilities mainly benefit larger environments, at a time when smaller shops may find what they need at lower prices among VMware's competitors. As I noted in the virtualization shoot-out earlier this year, VMware's still the king of the hill, but the competition is climbing fast.
[ Also on InfoWorld: "Virtualization shoot-out: Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware" | Editor in Chief Eric Knorr urges IT: Modernize or else. | Keep up on the day's tech news with the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. ]
VMware once enjoyed the advantages of having the only virtualization solution with big-ticket features like vMotion, DRS (Distributed Resource Scheduler), and HA (High Availability), but those features -- or reasonable facsimiles -- are now present in competing solutions from Red Hat, Microsoft, and Citrix. This pushes the feature race up the ladder, as features beyond the core virtualization group have a smaller audience, and they're more likely to be useful in enterprise infrastructures.
The big new features in vSphere 5 include a scalability bump allowing VMs to have 32-way SMP and 1TB of RAM, a redesigned HA architecture, storage DRS, profile-driven storage, automated host deployment, a new Linux-based vCenter Server appliance, and the elimination of ESX in favor of ESXi. These are very handy new features for larger environments, especially the new HA design, assuming it proves less finicky than the previous incarnation.