Some of the news pertaining to the next big release of ESX server in Q1/2006 includes more scalable performance and support for 64 bit, iSCSI and NAS, power-saving functions, 4-way SMP, clusters, and I/O accelerator/offload engines.
iSCSI and NAS will open up this technology in the SMB segment, since it will drive down storage costs. V-Motion will become an option for small companies too, with this new feature set.
Power-saving functions will be most welcome, given the costs to power huge server farms, and then get rid of the heat the machines generate. AMD PowerNow will be supported in ESX 3.0, and we expect Intel's Demand Based Switching to find its way into VMware as well.
Cluster support lets you can have many ESX servers, enabling a certain total of "gigahertz and gigabytes." If one of the nodes fails, V-Motion automatically moves the dead VMs to another ESX server in the cluster and restarts it, only losing the current memory state; the total resources of the cluster will be less per server, but you will be up and running before you even know something failed. The new V-Motion will even move VMs around automatically according to performance needs.
I/O offload units will also be very welcome, as we are beginning to see serious contention problems with every kind of I/O operation as the number of CPU cores increases (just think about networking).
ESX 3.0 is really a must have upgrade if you already use ESX server, and if you are in the start phase of acquiring virtual infrastructure, I recommend giving this upcoming release serious consideration.