VMware expands to higher-end systems

The software company, whose product lets Intel computers run several operating systems simultaneously, announces an upgrade that will let its products run a new class of more powerful programs.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Expertise Processors | Semiconductors | Web browsers | Quantum computing | Supercomputers | AI | 3D printing | Drones | Computer science | Physics | Programming | Materials science | USB | UWB | Android | Digital photography | Science Credentials
  • Shankland covered the tech industry for more than 25 years and was a science writer for five years before that. He has deep expertise in microprocessors, digital photography, computer hardware and software, internet standards, web technology, and more.
Stephen Shankland
2 min read
VMware, whose software lets Intel computers run several operating systems simultaneously, announced a major upgrade Monday that will enable its products to run a new class of more powerful programs.

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--profitable 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."