VMware Infrastructure 3.1 renamed 3.5, hits beta 2 – Updated with full details

Initially planning to release it as ESX Server 3.1 and VirtualCenter 2.1, VMware changed its mind and relabeled it as ESX Server 3.5 and VirtualCenter 2.5, aka Virtual Infrastructure 3.5.

The change is well justified by impressive amount of features it sports, which virtualization.info exposed two weeks ago.

New numbering comes along with highly expected beta 2, which launched last week.

The new build exposes serveral features detailed in beta 1 release notes, but not really available inside the product, and few important minor ones, like:

  • Swapfiles-less VMotion
    With VirtualCenter 2.5 virtual machines’ swapfiles are no more required for VMotion operations, so they can be saved locally instead of inside a shared volume
  • Provisioning across datacenters objects
    With VirtualCenter 2.5 a virtual machine or template stored in a datacenter can be cloned and deployed in another.
  • Support for Intel I/O Acceleration Technology (IOAT)
    ESX Server 3.5 supports new Intel chipset improving memory copies through TCP/IP.
  • Support for Jumbo Frames
    ESX Server 3.5 supports 9Kb frames for Windows 2003, RHEL 5.0 and SUSE Enterprise Linux Server 10 guests.
  • Support for Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF)
    VMware introduces a new virtual hard drive format, aimed at simplifying virtual machines portability through different virtualization platforms.

    It implies a conversion of existing virtual machines files (.vmdk, .vmx) with a specific tool.
    Once traditional files are compressed, all informations to decompress them are stored inside the new .ovf file along with other details such as compatible platforms, licensing details, etc.
  • Inclusion of Wyse multimedia redirection engine
    ESX Server 3.5 VMware Tools will include a DLL provided by Wyse to simplify delivery of multimedia contents when VMware Infrastructure 3.5 is used as Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) in conjunction with Wyse thin clients.

The last feature is particularly important: VMware is preparing to release its own connection broker after silent Propero acquisition, and this addition clearly states what is VMware preferred companion for its solution.

While the acquisition of an OEM seems unlikely, a thin client provider like Wyse may fit VMware strategy, mostly now that Citrix is a direct competitor with XenSource acquisition.

A further confirmation of this comes from integration of another 3rd party component: the virtual printer produced by ThinPrint, .print, already integrated in ACE 2.0, and ready to appear in ESX Server 3.5 as well.

Last but not least, this beta 2 introduces possible final name for new ESX Server edition aimed at hardware appliances VMware is building in partnership with OEM vendors like Dell, IBM and HP: previously known as ESX Lite, Embedded ESX and ESX Server HW, it now seems to be ESX Server 3i.

(you may want to check virtualization.info subscriptions to stay up to date on this topic)