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VMware vSphere 4 Now Available

VMware on Thursday announced the general availability of the vSphere 4 family of virtualization products.

The company describes vSphere 4 as an "operating system" that enables private clouds while virtualizing IT infrastructure. The products had their debut late last month. vSphere 4 is the successor to VMware Infrastructure 3.

vSphere 4 products are aimed at both small-to-medium business and enterprise users. In addition to changing the product's name, the company expanded its offerings from three editions to six.

The various editions support a different number of processors. Up to six processors per core are supported by vSphere Standard and Enterprise editions. The Advanced and Enterprise Plus editions support up to 12 processors per core.

The lowest-cost edition is VMware vSphere Essentials, which is designed for small businesses. It's priced at $166 per processor, or $995 for a one-year subscription with optional support. At the high end, VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus costs $3,495 with additional charges for support and subscription. The company describes its overall vSphere pricing here.

VMware called out a number of features with the release of vSphere 4, including "control over application security and service levels," as well as customer choice on the kind of hardware to use. In addition, vSphere 4 can be located on the customer's premises or hosted in an external Internet cloud.

IT pros interested in VMware's VMotion feature, which can move virtual machines across servers with minimal disruption, need to buy the enterprise editions, according to VMware's vSphere 4 feature list (PDF). That's a notable contrast to Microsoft's more stripped-down Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 virtualization offering. Microsoft announced last month that Hyper-V now includes this virtual machine migration capability, which Microsoft calls "Live Migration," for free.

Basic management of vSphere 4 is performed with vCenter, which comes with the product. However, VMware is not supporting the use of some of its earlier management products with vSphere 4, according to a DABCC report. Products that do not work with vSphere 4 are vCenter Site Recovery Manager, vCenter Lab Manager, vCenter Lifecycle Manager, vCenter Stage Manager and VMware View.

More information on the vSphere 4 editions can be found at VMware's site here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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