VMware Reveals vCloud Director 1.0

 
 
By Cameron Sturdevant  |  Posted 2010-08-31
 
 
 

VMware gave me a sneak peek at vCloud Director, which leads me to think that the company is about to set a new benchmark for virtualized IT.

What's new is that vCloud Director, which VMware released last week at VMworld in San Francisco, enables IT to combine pooled compute, network and storage resources as a catalog offering. VMware calls this a "Virtual Data Center." The company is hoping that IT managers will use vCloud Director along with virtual appliances and regular virtual machines to create catalogs from which services are simply selected and then automatically provisioned.

Midlevel IT and even technology-savvy business users have the skills necessary to participate in this process. Bringing the business user closer to the IT provisioning process is what makes vCloud Director such a potentially big deal. If vCloud Director plays out in the real world, it will turn IT into a provisioning monster that meets business computing needs without the lag time and handwringing that dominated the previous era of physical-only workload processing.

Under vCloud Director, the underlying physical infrastructure is shared in a multitenant, isolated fashion by departments or outside organizations that never know about each other. The result is a cloud resource that can be as private or public as the operator wishes. In a flourish that marks this 1.0 release as anything but a trial balloon, there is a branding tab that will enable service providers or IT departments to create the appearance that these provisioning services are offered directly by them instead of VMware.

I'm getting the code into eWEEK Labs today to see if the promise is matched by reality, but, based on operational demonstrations I've seen so far, I'm inclined to be impressed.

It especially matters to me that VMware is also addressing some of the thorny issues that have proved tough for IT managers to tackle and for third-party products to solve. Among these are VM life cycle, fundamental VM security and automatic VM separation.

For example, vCloud Director provides ample VM lease limits that can trigger workflows to start resource reclamation-in other words, wiping out unused VMs and putting valuable physical resources back in the available pool. The limits I saw don't actually take down the VM but rather trigger an action, such as sending an e-mail to the IT manager and the VM owner as a lease period is set to expire. Dealing with VM life cycle up front is one key to ensuring that valuable resources aren't squandered on idle systems that are no longer needed.

Security comes in the form of several new vShield offerings. There is still plenty of room for security tools that are offered as virtual appliances, but vShield should help IT managers ensure that VMs can be protected and isolated in the virtual network with technology that is baked into the virtualization infrastructure.

It's worth noting that VMware has released technically significant, industry-leading virtualization products in back-to-back years. vSphere 4 set the scene for advances that are now being realized in vCloud Director. If product tests bear out the advances set forward in vCloud Director, IT could be positioned to not only reduce the cost of business, but also step up the pace of business productivity.


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