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Suppose they gave a VMworld and vSphere didn't show up?

Virtzilla's flagship was hard to find in SFO, but is coming along nicely

VMworld 2014 A hypothetical VMworld 2014 attendee utterly unfamiliar with VMware could conceivably have emerged from the event unaware that the company's flagship product is called vSphere.

But if one poked one's head into the right places at the show it was possible to learn a little about the product's future.

Our tip that version 6.0 of the suite would be announced at the show was wrong. Instead we got confirmation that the current vSphere beta program is for vSphere 6.0, a detail participants were not encouraged to share. We also learned that the beta program is still open to new entrants, an perhaps-unexpected opportunity given VMware has in the past talked up a 12-month cadence for major vSphere releases and announced version 5.5 at last year's VMworld.

The Reg's virtualisation desk won't bet against 6.0 landing this year, but perhaps Virtzilla is moving a little slower these days?

What's in the new version? VMware confirmed that VVOLs will debut, which will be welcome because they are designed to ensure vAdmins' and storage admins' don't work at cross purposes. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger even apologised for their late arrival, saying their absence made life hard for the company's storage partners and that their debut will help both array-makers and VMware to further abstract arrays.

Another biggie revealed to the show was vMotion over long distances. Today vMotion, a tool that just about teleports workloads from one host to another, is used within data centres and perhaps across campuses or cities. VMware has now promised the technology will be viable across continents. That's big news because it expands disaster recovery scenarios, makes it conceivable that one could send workloads closer to users at different times of day and perhaps even contemplate chasing low electricity prices in a “follow-the-moon” scenario.

VMware says network virtualisation advances are the key here, because even when a workload is vMotioned somewhere else network abstraction means it won't lose touch with the storage and network resources it relies upon.

There's also a new web client on the way. At the show, VMware execs acknowledged the current version is sub-par, something VMware admins have been saying long, loud and with decreasing subtlety for a while now. Version 6.0 will give it a through tidy-up.

There's also a new feature delivering “virtual datacentres” that pool multiple physical facilities into a single pool of storage, compute and networking resources.

VSphere 5.5 did rate a mention at the show, with a new update pack announced for some time this quarter. Expect support for new chipsets, some new guest OSes, better handling of some business applications and hosts up to 6TB in size.

VMware's also announced a new licence for vSphere. This one applies immediately, so presumably will make the jump to vSphere 6.0 too.

When VMware users hear about new licensing schemes, memories of 2011's vTax debacle – and backdown – are apt to come flooding back.

The good news is that this time the change to licensing is benign.

The new arrangement is called “vSphere Remote Office Branch Office Editions” and lets Virtzilla's customers buy a bushel of licences that aren't tied to a particular location.

As explained in the canned blurb, the new licences offer the chance to use 25 virtual machines anywhere it takes your fancy. At US$3,000 for the standard edition of vSphere and US$4,500 for the advanced version.

The licences come in packs of 25: if you need 26 VMs you'll pay for 50. But the licences are transferable, so you can run 'em where you need 'em and then move 'em around. ®

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