Virtualization software maker VMware is set to introduce a new version of its VMware Converter migration tool software, which facilitates setting up server virtualization on a computer system.VMware Converter 3 automates the physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) conversion process for creating virtual machines from physical machines or from other virtual machines. It also works with virtual machines managed by other virtualization hypervisors.Although virtualization is quickly being embraced by data center managers to make more efficient use of servers, reduce costs and streamline operations, management of a virtual system can still be a challenge to some, said Ben Matheson, director of product management at VMware, a subsidiary of storage vendor EMC."They need a tool for more easily migrating from the physical to the virtual world," Matheson said.VMware Converter 3 comes in two versions. VMware Converter Starter edition is free, but it turns physical servers into virtual servers one at a time; Converter Enterprise edition turns multiple physical servers into virtual servers simultaneously, but is free only to customers who already run VMware\u2019s flagship ESX product for large enterprises.The Starter version is designed to entice smaller businesses\u00a0that are undertaking their first virtualization project, said Charles King, president of Pund-IT, a technology research firm. The Enterprise version is for larger businesses, which likely have their own IT staff familiar with virtualization. But either type of customer can benefit from simplified management."They\u2019ve taken some solid steps to remove some of the headaches of going to virtualization," said King.One of the new features is what VMware calls "hot cloning," which allows a data center manager to convert a physical server into multiple virtual servers and start running without having to reboot the server, said Matheson. A reboot could mean end users would have trouble accessing a program, which is a problem even if it\u2019s temporary.VMware dominates the x86 server virtualization market, but others are introducing competition, said King. XenSource and Virtual Iron offer virtualization hypervisors that are based on open-source software, while software giant Microsoft is expected to introduce a new version of Microsoft Virtual Server later this year.-Robert Mullins, IDG News Service (San Francisco Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.