VMware Ships New GSX Server Partitioning Software

By Timothy Prickett Morgan
July 15, 2002
This coverage originally appeared on ComputerWire:

VMware Inc., the Palo Alto, California, vendor of virtual machine partitioning software for industry-standard Windows and Linux servers, will today take the wraps off of its GSX Server 2.0, a substantially updated release of its software for entry and midrange 32-bit Intel servers.

Darryl Ramm, director of technical marketing at VMware says that GSX Server can now run on servers with as much as 8GB of main memory, up from a maximum of 4GB on the prior GSX Server 1.0 software. Each virtual server on a carved up Intel box can have a maximum of 2GB of main memory allocated to it (the software has some virtual memory capabilities that extend memory space as well), which is an increase of a few hundred megabytes compared to the prior version of the software. Ramm says that GSX Server 2.0 is designed, depending on workloads, to accommodate as many as four virtual operating systems, which can be loaded with a 32-bit Linux or Windows operating system, per processor. On compute-intensive or resource-intensive applications, VMware often recommends allocating a whole Intel processor to a virtual machine.

GSX Server is aimed at departmental machines, and is particularly useful for organizations that want to set up partitions on their machines to design and test code before rolling it into production. it is supported on uniprocessor, dual-processor, and four-way machines. The company's flagship ESX Server 1.5, which was announced at the end of May, is aimed at larger Intel servers. ESX Server currently supports servers with two to eight processors and can provide up to 10 virtual machines per physical processor on modest workloads and addresses up to 64GB of physical memory. ESX Server 1.5 supports a maximum of 3.6GB of memory per virtual machine.

GSX Server 2.0, which is available starting today, supports all the recent Linux 2.4 operating systems as both a host environment and a guest operating system within a partition, including Red Hat 7.3, SuSE 8.0, and Mandrake 8.2; other Linuxes are supported as well, but these are what have been certified as of launch date, says Ramm. Technically, an open source Linux operating system will work. GSX Server will also support the beta editions of the Standard Server and Enterprise Server flavors of Microsoft Corp's future Windows .NET Server operating systems as a host or guest operating system. When Microsoft rolls out these operating systems as finished products, VMware will support them immediately. GSX Server also supports older Linux 2.2 operating systems as hosts and guests, as well as Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 in both the overall host operating system and the partition guest environments. Support for Intel's Pentium 4 Xeon, the AMD Athlon XP processor, and multiple-processor servers based on AMD chips was also added into GSX Server 2.0.

GSX Server 2.0 also allows for in-box clustering between virtual machines, and includes a new feature called repeatable resume that allows a virtual machine - say a testing environment - to be created on the fly for testing in exactly the same configuration again and again when needed, and the resources to be automatically returned to other virtual machines when that virtual machine is no longer needed. GSX Server also supports a scripting interface based on a COM API that can use Visual Basic, VBScript, C, C++ or any other number of programming tools to create scripts to manage virtual machines automatically.

GSX Server 2.0 costs $3,499 when it is downloaded over the Web and $3,549 in a shrink-wrapped boxed version. That price includes support and maintenance for 12 months. After that, ongoing maintenance and support together run about 20% of list price. VMware only sells software with maintenance included, so all current GSX customers (who are by default on maintenance) can upgrade to the new version for free.