VMware has unveiled its vSphere 5 cloud infrastructure technologies, complete with a new software appliance designed to enhance the platform and make it more attractive to enterprises.

In a blog post, VMware’s Cormac Hogan comments on the significance of the storage enhancements in particular:

One of the primary objectives of Storage enhancements in 5.0 is to make the management of storage much simpler. One way to do this is to reduce the number of storage objects that a customer has to manager, i.e. enable our customers to use far fewer and much larger datastores. To that end, we are increasing the scalability of the VMFS-5 filesystem.

VMware also launched its new vSphere Storage Appliance, a software product that aims to add business continuity and automated resource management capabilities to vSphere. The system is designed to ease the complexity of shared storage for small and mid-sized businesses and is made to be easy to install.

A blog post on the website of the New York Times refers to the company’s aim of becoming the Microsoft of cloud computing—especially given the fact that VMware CEO Paul Maritz hails from Microsoft. In an interview with the Times blogger, Maritz compares the company’s strategy to the Microsoft Office format of rolling up software apps under one umbrella:

“We’re doing the same thing for automated cloud infrastructures,” Mr. Maritz said in an interview. Convenient for customers, no doubt. But it seems there is a larger issue. Aren’t the broad-based cloud software suppliers, like VMware, Microsoft, I.B.M. and Oracle, really just offering another form of technology lock-in? Calling something “cloud” doesn’t make it any less proprietary.

The company cites nearly 200 enhanced capabilities on vSphere 5, along with a slew of capabilities ranging from security solutions to management functionality to data recovery tools to further enhance the platform. According to VMware, vSphere 5 will support virtual machines that are up to four times more powerful than previous versions, with up to 1 terabyte of memory and 32 virtual CPUs. The VMs, the company said, will be able to process in excess of 1 million I/O operations per second.