In a race of 110 contenders, VMware VirtualCenter solidly won this year's Rookie of the Year award. The popularity of VMware's products is reflected in the company's revenue. In 2003, the company, a subsidiary of EMC, earned just under $110 million. For 2004, VMware is projecting $175 million to $200 million in revenue, clearly establishing virtual machine (VM) technology as an important and growing part of the IT infrastructure. Another remarkable fact attests to VirtualCenter's impact on the industry: To qualify for this category, a product must have been a version 1.0 product released between April 2003 and April 2004. VirtualCenter's release date was in November 2003, which means the product was available only for approximately 6 months before Readers' Choice voting began.

VMware developed Virtual Center for customers who need a unified view of and a management console for all of their VMs. VirtualCenter lets you view a VM's utilization and type, learn what gold image the VM is based on, create templates of new VMs, manage and view VMs from a single point of control, adjust resources that are dedicated to each VM, and view historical VM performance.

New technology in VirtualCenter, VMotion, intelligently manages workloads. Michael Mullany, VMware's vice president of marketing, put the technology into perspective: "VMotion is technology that has never been seen before in computing. It is the capability to take a live, arbitrary application running on one physical server and swap it over to another physical server without missing a beat." Customers use VMotion to avoid scheduled hardware maintenance downtime and to load-balance multiple VMs across a pool of physical servers.

VirtualCenter took a year to develop. VMware completed extensive testing beginning with the pre-beta stage by performing product walk-throughs and usability tests with customers. Mullany said, "We knew we wanted it to hit the market and not have the usual problems of a 1.0 release where it gets to the market and you realize that you haven't quite built what your customers want and you go back and fix it in the 2.0 cycle. We knew we wanted to get it right in the 1.0 release, and this has been proven by the fact that we now have an astonishing take-up of VirtualCenter to manage VMs."

For users who already have significant investment in management software, VMware recently released a software development kit (SDK) for VirtualCenter that lets you attach your company's applications. VirtualCenter pricing starts at $5000 for the management server; agents start at $300 per managed CPU; and the VMotion add-on module costs $700 per CPU.

WINNER! — VMWARE VIRTUALCENTER
VMware
650-475-5000 or 877-486-9273
http://www.vmware.com
2nd Place — Cisco Aironet 1100 Series Access Point and Cisco Aironet 1200 Series Access Point
Cisco Systems
http://www.cisco.com
3rd Place — Policy Maker Professional
AutoProf
http://www.autoprof.com