VMware Pulls the Wraps Off GSX Server 2.0

This article originally appeared on the451.com:


Rachel Chalmers


Enterprise software

Report date

Mon, 15 Jul 2002


Virtual server specialist VMware has launched GSX Server 2.0, a revision of its software for lifecycle management and server consolidation. Customers are using GSX Server to move applications from development and test environments to full production.

Director of technology marketing Darryl Ramm says a typical enterprise doing its own testing and development ends up with a proliferation of back-end development systems and utilization rates as low as 2%. GSX Server offers a low-risk way to harness those underused resources.

Impact assessment

The message

GSX Server, VMware's workgroup product (as opposed to ESX Server, the enterprise product) is now in release 2.0, with new COM and Perl APIs, as well as support for physical address expansion.

Competitive landscape

VMware faces little or nothing in the way of technical equivalents, but Aurema, IBM, NetIQ and others offer functional alternatives for at least part of what GSX Server can do.

The451 assessment

VMware goes from strength to strength, and the new features in GSX Server 2.0 should help it expand its existing beachhead in the Windows market.



VMware's software partitions and isolates server resources in secure and transportable virtual machines. GSX Server 2.0 should help companies provision, manage and standardize these resources on a uniform platform.

New features in 2.0 include support for the physical address extension (PAE) standard for up to 8GB of physical memory; a new COM API to allow Windows administrators to do scripting and automation in VBScript and Visual Basic; an upgrade to the Perl API that shipped with an earlier release; support for the Windows .NET Server family and for all the latest Linux releases as both guest and host operating systems; support for in-box clustering using standard software; and repeatable resume, which allows virtual machines to be suspended and resumed, just like the sleep function on a laptop.


VMware boasts three reference customers for the GSX Server 2.0 beta: the Omaha legislature, Tower Bank & Trust and Welch's, the grape juice company. Omaha intends to use the suspend and resume feature to associate particula virtual machines with particular sessions of the legislature. When the legislature goes into recess, the virtual machine, with all relevant notes, transcripts and meeting minutes, is frozen. Similarly, Welch's, which is using GSX Server for the usual server consolidation, test and development functions, also plans to roll it out onto the shop floor as a disaster recovery technology to ensure that new grape juice recipes are never lost.


Because no other company sells virtual machine technology quite the way VMware does, the biggest competitor is usually the status quo – the tendency for prospects to want to stick to their old test and development processes, however inefficient those processes are. That said, other companies are offering functionally similar products. IBM and NetIQ offer capacity planning and sizing software. Aurema offers process management. VMware CEO Diane Greene points out, though, that each of these point solutions can be seen as complementary to the VMware approach.

"Some people like to manage processes inside a VM, in which case we're happy to work with Aurema," she said. Similarly, VMware customers might benefit from the computation-intensive capacity planning technology of a company like Peakstone. Since Peakstone and VMware share JP Morgan as an investor, it's not impossible that these companies could form a productive partnership.

SWOT analysis

Strengths Weaknesses

VMware's software solves hard problems, is well-loved by its users and has no direct competitors.

Ironically, VMware risks becoming a victim of its own success as it struggles to manage growth and balance customer demands against engineering resources.

Opportunities Threats

Where virtual machines are the right approach, as in Windows server consolidation, in many test and development environments and in technical training, VMware invariably carries the day.

Virtual machines aren't always the right approach. Alternatives include capacity planning, provisioning and process management. Ambitious startups are hard at work in each of these sectors.