The free VMWare server and VMWare player is genius. Pure genius to me, and potentially trickling ‘up’ to parent EMC. My take on what I’ve read and heard whispers of around ‘the net’ will really work. Here’s my take on how it’ll work out:
Free VMWare player for most developers and all testers/QA. Some copies of VMWare Workstation for Developers and Engineers, but the sales there will be drop in the bucket stuff.
Free VMWare Server farm for Dev, test and train. Maybe some ESX sales for some of those depending on how the app needs to perform.
ESX sales up the wazoo for production, probably living on EMC storage (the trickle up…)
So developers build and configure a an application within VMWare player, maybe workstation. Then that image gets promoted to the Dev and Test VMWare server. They merge all the developers code, test it, debug it, etc. Then once, it’s approved, that same installed image, is converted to an ESX image and put into production. And you can clone it several times if you have a load balanced server farm in production. The beauty to me is you’re absolutely sure the same configuration is used throughout the SDLC. So you never have an issue where a developer forgot a required package, registry, /etc/system, or .conf setting down the road. Because you can clone a vmdk file you can have developers working on upgrades with copies of the real production server and code base. Configuration Management becomes super sweet too, you can check the VM image in for a release. So you can check in the entire system, not just the pieces and parts.
Granted, this doesn’t work for everybody, and it’s by no means perfect. VM’s are big, and passing around these VM’s and cloning and copying will chew up disk space like nobodies business (more trickle up to EMC…). You now need bigger hardware to run on since in the free products you’re essentially running two OS’s at the same time. And a simple patch release can be a headache… when do you reclone vs when do you install on each VM? But I think if you size the VMWare farms right and build the process into your lifecycle it won’t be an issue and the savings will outweigh the costs.
Eh, just rambling….