VMware has unveiled the features of a new VMware Infrastructure release expected to be generally available later this year. The upcoming release of VMware Infrastructure, which will include the new VMware ESX Server 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5, will allow VMware customers to streamline the management of IT environments through greater levels of automation, increase overall infrastructure availability and boost performance for mission critical workloads. 

The new release will also include updated packaging and pricing, including new offerings specifically targeted at midsize and smaller IT environments.
"This release builds upon nearly a decade of continuous innovation," says Raghu Raghuram, vice-president of products and solutions at VMware. "We continue to drive improvements across the VMware Infrastructure suite. The new features, such as the first solution to move virtual machine disks across data stores, provide compelling value to customers of all sizes, whether they are small businesses or large enterprises."
VMware Infrastructure is VMware's third-generation, production-ready virtualization suite. According to a recent study of VMware customers, 90% of companies surveyed use VMware Infrastructure in production environments. With more than 120 industry and technology awards, VMware provides a much anticipated complete solution that meets customer demand for a next generation firmware hypervisor, enhanced virtual infrastructure capabilities, and advanced management and automation solutions.
"Customers are continually looking for more ways to take advantage of their virtualized infrastructure and to maximize the ROI the software can deliver
to their organization," says John Humphreys, program vice-president at IDC. "With the announcement of VMware ESX Server 3.5 and VMware VirtualCenter 2.5, VMware is raising the bar by not only enhancing existing features but taking virtualization to the next level with new capabilities for increased mobility and service availability. These new features can enable new use cases which in turn will help to drive new customer adoption of virtualisation within the industry."
The new features in VMware Infrastructure meet the needs of a broad range of customers and IT environments – from midsize and small businesses to branch offices and corporate datacenters within global 100 corporations – and extend the value of all three layers of the virtualisation suite.
"The new release will make our data center even more manageable and more flexible," says Kim Wisniewski, systems engineer at Curtin University of Technology.
"For example, VMware Guided Consolidation will lower training costs for engineers new to VMware ESX Server and make it easier to extend virtualisation throughout the organization. Also, VMware Storage VMotion will help us manage our virtual infrastructure storage lifecycles more effectively by giving us the ability to transparently move workloads away from storage needing downtime for maintenance, or dynamically rebalance storage workloads without affecting our virtual machines and the services they support."
Virtualisation platform enhancements help deliver new levels of performance, scalability and compatibility for running the most demanding workloads in virtual machines:
* Expanded storage and networking choices such as support for SATA local storage, 10 Gig Ethernet, and Infiniband expand storage and networking choices for virtual infrastructure;
* Support for TCP Segment Offload and Jumbo frames reduce the CPU overhead associated with processing network I/O;
* Support for hardware nested page tables such as in processor assists for memory virtualisation;
* Support for para-virtualised Linux guest operating systems enables higher levels of performance through virtualisation-aware operating systems; and
* Support for virtual machines with 64Gb of RAM and physical machines with up to 128Gb of memory.
New virtual infrastructure capabilities help deliver increased infrastructure availability and resilience:
* VMware Storage VMotion enables live migration of virtual machine disks from one data storage system to another with no disruption or downtime. VMware VMotion has become an indispensable tool for many infrastructure administrators to dynamically balance their server workloads and eliminate planned downtime for server maintenance. Storage VMotion extends VMotion to storage resources of a virtual machine, namely virtual disks. Using Storage VMotion, administrators can dynamically balance the storage workload and address performance bottlenecks by migrating virtual machine disks to the best available storage resource. Administrators can minimize service disruption previously incurred for upgrading storage arrays and free storage administrators to improve and manage the storage
infrastructure without having to co-ordinate extensively with application and server owners.
* VMware Update Manager automates patch and update management for VMware ESX Server hosts and virtual machines. Update Manager addresses one of the most significant pain points for every IT department: tracking patch levels and manually applying the latest security/bug fixes. Patching of offline virtual machines enforces higher levels of patch standards compliance than physical environments. Integration with VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) enables zero-downtime VMware ESX Server host patching capabilities.
New virtual infrastructure management solutions help deliver increased automation for streamlined managed of IT environments.
* VMware Distributed Power Management is an experimental feature that reduces power consumption in the data center through intelligent workload balancing. Working in conjunction with VMware DRS, Distributed Power Management is designed to automatically power off servers not currently needed in order to meet service levels, and automatically power on servers as demand for compute resources increases.
* VMware Guided Consolidation, a feature of VMware VirtualCenter enables companies to get started with server consolidation in a step-by-step tutorial fashion. A wizard discovers physical servers, identifies consolidation candidates, converts them to virtual machines, and leveraging intelligently places them onto the best VMware ESX Server or VMware Server hosts. Guided Consolidation helps to make the consolidation process quick and easy for users with little knowledge of virtualisation.