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VMware's chief executive officer Paul Maritz. (VMware)
VMware's chief executive officer Paul Maritz. (VMware)

Cloud storage and virtualization: new solutions for small business Add to ...

Virtualization, which allows one server to virtually act as several virtual servers, has become an increasingly important technology for businesses of all sizes. And we're seeing a reflection of that in the marketplace.

Virtualization leader VMware hasn’t traditionally focused its efforts on small businesses. Then, according to group manager of product marketing, Ed Hsu, the company realized that half of the licenses they were selling were going to companies with fewer than 1,000 employees: by definition, small businesses, who accounted for one-third of its revenue.

Companies with fewer than 250 employees account for a significant proportion of this volume. VMware has reacted by preparing new products and services aimed directly at the small business market. Mr. Hsu says the company has more than tripled its customer count in the small-business segment over the past two years.

VMware’s products, such as vSphere Essentials (which allows a small business to virtualize up to three physical servers) and vSphere Essentials Plus (which adds high availability, data protection and vMotion – the ability to seamlessly move virtual machines between physical hosts), were designed to be easy to deploy and operate for businesses with modest needs, tight budgets and minimal IT staff.

At the recent VMworld conference in Las Vegas, the company announced further expansions to its portfolio.

First up was vSphere 5, which underpins the Essentials products. vSphere 5. Chief executive officer Paul Maritz says vSphere 5 contains over more than 200 new features, including a faster auto-deploy module, support for Apple Xserve servers as guest operating systems, and improved storage management.

These days, the cloud is everywhere, and the VMworld conference was no exception. Several of VMware’s key announcements enable cloud computing in its various forms.

VMware vCloud Connector 1.5 provides faster, more reliable delivery and management of virtualized workloads from enterprise datacenters to public clouds, accelerating hybrid environment portability. VMware also introduced vcloud.vmware.com, a new online destination where enterprises can find public cloud service providers, test drive services, and begin transferring and managing workloads in the cloud.

Other lesser-known vendors have also stepped up to the plate, especially in the virtualization and cloud management arenas. Managing services hosted in the cloud can be a challenge, one that public cloud provider Bluelock is addressing with Bluelock Portfolio, a decision support tool that enables customers to break down their cloud costs by region, site location, line of business or application. Users can identify which business units, applications or technology components compose the lion’s share of their cloud costs, and quickly pinpoint spending trends. They can then educate their teams about what is really happening in their environment, and the financial impact of their actions.

Keeping track of virtual machines, regardless of their location, is the goal of the Xangati Management Dashboard suite. It provides both Virtual Infrastructure and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), multi-host dashboard solutions that provide views of dynamic storage interactions, detailed insights into the activity within the virtual machine (VM), and live and continuous views of communications statistics for VDI implementations through a recently announced technology partnership with Teradici. Xangati offers both a paid version and a free, single-host tool called Xangati for vSphere.

Acronis is part of a new technology partnership that brings together virtualization monitoring and high performance backup and recovery for VMware vSphere environments. Acronis vmProtect 6 integrates backup and recovery with real-time monitoring and reporting from VMTurbo Community Edition.

The joint solution allows administrators to monitor both system performance and backup performance from a single dashboard and accurately monitor both in real time. This enables immediate response to failure alerts, and provides early warnings of failures within vStorage, minimizing the risk of data loss.

Finally, in these days of the so-called consumerization of IT, companies are challenged by the need to isolate their data from user data on personally-owned smart phones. At the conference, VMware announced VMware Horizon Mobile, which allows companies to encapsulate a “company phone” in a VM on a user’s personal smart phone. The company phone is completely isolated from the user’s personal apps and data, and can be remotely erased if the device is lost or stolen.

“I’m particularly intrigued by Horizon,” says Michelle Warren, principle analyst at MW Research and Consulting. “They’re definitely addressing a need.” However, she’s not as enthusiastic about the new cloud services. “In Canada,” she says, “it’s important that providers have datacenters in Canada. VMware does not, yet.”

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