VMware's Fusion 2.0 to support virtualization of OS X Server

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VMware announced Thursday that version 2.0 of its Fusion virtualization software for Mac will include support for Mac OS X Leopard Server virtual machines running on top of Mac OS X.

Available in the next public beta, the added functionality is a result of recent changes to the Mac OS X Leopard Server license agreement, which allows users to run multiple copies of Leopard Server on a single piece of Apple hardware, provided that users acquire an individual license for each copy.

In fact, VMware says Fusion 2.0 will run many copies of Mac OS X Server on brawny Mac hardware — like Xserves or Mac Pros — as long as there is RAM to support them. The virtualization software itself will support up to 8GB of RAM per virtual machine, in addition to other "big iron features" like dual-core virtual machines and 64-bit operating systems.

Alternatively, users can simultaneously run a mixture of server operating systems, such as the combination of Windows Server 2003, Linux and Mac OS X Server. This capability will be particularly useful for cross-platform developers, VMware notes, because they'll be able to run Xcode and Visual Studio on the same machine, compile, and then test the software in multiple virtual operating systems that are running as virtual machines.

Running multiple instances of Leopard Server should also help developers shave time off their debugging procedures. Instead of tinkering with configurations and settings to reproduce a quality assurance tester’s system, they'll be able to simply copy the tester’s virtual machine, quickly reproduce a bug, write a fix, and then use Fusion's 'roll back to a snapshot' function before testing again.

Mac OS X Server running atop Mac OS X.

Other potential advantages for enterprise customers include reduced energy costs by running fewer physical servers, improved security and management by isolating services like Apache and mail across virtual machines, and more efficient utilization of hardware by hosting services that require distinct installations of Leopard Server all on one piece of hardware.

VMware Fusion 2.0 will be a free upgrade for all Fusion 1.x customers when it's released later this year. A beta of version 2.0 that includes support for Leopard Server virtual machines is due soon. In the meantime, an earlier beta is available for download.