VMware has launched a new developer network that includes cheaper access to its virtualisation products. The aim is to make it easier for businesses to deploy applications in virtual environments.

VMware's software creates so-called virtual machines - isolated packages of operating systems, applications and data that enable single physical servers to run multiple workloads. The VMware Technology Network (VMTN) will give developers access to pre-built virtual machines that include applications from companies such as BEA, MySQL and Oracle. It also comes with including technical support, discussion forums, white papers and access to all of VMware’s products.

A yearly subscription to the network costs $299. Access to the pre-built virtual machines and VMware products will begin next week.

Use of the VMware products, including ESX Server and VMware Workstation, are available strictly for developer use. But sysadmins will see benefits in the data centre at large, said Srinivas Krishnamurti, group product manager at VMware. "We were able to work in conjunction with Oracle, Red Hat, Novell and SpikeSource to get their products pre-installed, pre-configured in virtual machines," he said. "So if I need an Oracle database instead of having to go get Oracle CDs and install it and configure it and all that good stuff, I just go to the VMTN website and copy down a virtual machine and that’s ready to go."

That reduces the overhead associated with development and gets applications into production more quickly, said Krishnamurti. In addition, by giving developers cheaper access to VMware products, IT environments already using VMware will be standardised from development through production.

"VMTN brings developers and IT personnel together and allows them to share the same configuration across the board," Krishnamurti said. "In a sense, each developer will have a mini replica of the data centre on their desktop. So any application they’re developing can actually be tested with the same configuration, in the same kind of environment in which the application is going to be deployed in the data centre."