VMware has a new version of its migration tool software which sets up server virtualisation.

VMware Converter 3 automates the physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) conversion process and works with virtual machines from other companies.

Although virtualisation is becoming more popular with data centre managers, management of a virtual system can still be a challenge, said Ben Matheson, director of product management at VMware. "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 are already run VMware's flagship ESX product for large enterprises.

The Starter version is designed to attract smaller businesses who are undertaking their first virtualisation project while tje Enterprise version is for larger businesses, which likely have their own IT staff familiar with virtualisation.

One new feature called "hot cloning" allows a sysadmin to convert a physical server into multiple virtual servers and start running without having to reboot the server.

VMware dominates the x86 server virtualisation market, but others are arriving, including XenSource and Virtual Iron, while Microsoft is expected to introduce a new version of Microsoft Virtual Server later this year.