VMware has significantly improved its VMware Marketplace, but there are many improvements that could be made to ease/drive virtual appliance acquisition, implementation and support.
the first of a series of reviews I'm writing about VMware vSphere 4
, I focused
on important new features such as the vNetwork Distributed Switch and improved
a product reviewer, that's my job-to focus on the product. But as an industry
analyst, one of the big changes at VMware that caught my eye was the drastic
improvements made to the VMware Marketplace for virtual appliances.
of the beautiful things about virtualization is the ability to create virtual
appliances that wrap the operating system, application, disk and other configuration
choices into a neat, isolated bundle.
like virtual appliances because they significantly reduce application
installation and distribution costs: Because the virtual appliance is already
installed when it gets to you, you don't have to go through the expensive,
one-time step-up process. And thanks to some standardization work that I'll
touch on in a moment, virtual appliances are relatively cheap to move around in
a virtual data center, even among VMware, Hyper-V and Xen-based virtualization
change in the VMware virtual appliance marketplace is twofold.
it has been integrated into the vCenter Server interface, which makes it simple
to access the virtual appliances. Second, the marketplace has been almost completely
revamped. Links to products actually lead to a virtual appliance that can be
downloaded within the VMware domain. In the previous version of the marketplace,
I was more often than not taken to dead ends on the appliance makers' Websites.
For those of you who were soured on the idea of exploring virtual appliances,
this new marketplace should change your attitude.
about implementation? Virtual appliances are like starter kits; they are really
meant to be used as a low-cost (to you, the IT manager) way to quickly get a
taste for what this or that virtual appliance can do in your environment. To
actually deploy production-level versions of these products-which range from
firewalls and intrusion detection systems to capacity planning and VM
performance management tools-you'll be spending some time creating your own
virtual appliances that are tweaked to work perfectly in your data center.
your new virtual appliance, will, in most cases, be much easier because of the
DMTF (Distributed Management Task Force).
of the virtual appliances I looked at in the VMware marketplace are provided in
an OVF (Open Virtualization Format) package. In this method, all aspects of the
virtual machine, or multiple virtual machines running together, are described.
This means that the CPU, memory and disk, along with all other virtual hardware
requirements, are provided with the virtual appliance. With a little practice,
most IT managers will be able to deploy virtual appliances in OVF packages with
little or no manual intervention.
keep the marketplace interesting for IT managers, VMware needs to make sure
that product offerings are kept up-to-date. Further, it would be nice to see
support, maintenance, advice and user group links added to each of the
products. Even if these links lead off to vendor or community-supported sites,
it would be convenient for potential customers to see these service links right
next to the offered product.
it's not too soon for VMware to add product lifecycle management to the
marketplace. A "new products" highlight area for recently added
virtual appliances could be joined by a "staying power" category that
features tried-and-true performers. This kind of product differentiation could
be provided by a third party. But for premium data center products, I'd rather
get this kind of information from the company that is demonstrating the
operational ability to make it happen, and that's VMware.
Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached