The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company's product provides a computing foundation for software that's fooled into thinking it's using real computing resources. The strategy enables Intel computers to be partitioned into several independent "virtual machines," something heretofore available only on higher-end Unix servers and mainframes.
But until now, VMware's strategy permitted creation of only single-processor virtual computers. On Monday, the company said its software will enable dual-processor virtual servers, opening the product's use for higher-end tasks such as databases or Microsoft Exchange.
"It's going to bring a whole new class of customers to us. In a lot of companies, a two-CPU server is the standard image," said Chief Executive Diane Greene in an interview. Greene announced the move at Demo 2003, a computer technology show this week in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Partitioning a single system into multiple "virtual machines" is useful for consolidating several lower-end systems onto a single, more powerful machine. It's a strategy that's particularly cost-effective when replacing systems that don't use the full potential of their hardware. For example, four systems running at 20 percent of their maximum capacity could be consolidated onto a single machine.
VMware will support virtual dual-processor systems first, but with further optimizations, plans to support four-processor systems later, Greene said.
VMware's ESX Server product will be the first to support dual processors, with an add-on update scheduled to arrive in the second quarter, said Michael Mullany, senior director of product management for VMware. The company's lower-end GSX server product and its workstation product also will see the feature, Greene said.
The most popular applications expected to use the dual-processor abilities will be Microsoft Exchange and IBM's Domino servers, products running server e-mail, calendars and contact list software. Databases software is another likely prospect, she said.
VMware has been collaborating with IBM, HP and others so those server makers' management software can control VMware operations.
Pricing hasn't been settled, but VMware-- with its current products--will continue to make market expansion its priority.
"Historically, you've never seen us trying to get the last penny out of anything," Greene said. "We're much more interested in widespread adoption."