VMware Adds Cloud, Desktop Infrastructure to Its Virtualization Road Map

As the 2008 VMworld conference kicks off, VMware is detailing a new road map that will take the company beyond virtualization as a server and data center infrastructure consolidation tool and into the world of cloud computing. VMware executives believe they will be able to offer a combination of virtualization software and services that will allow an enterprise's data center to resemble what Google has done. VMware is also looking enhance its ability with desktop virtualization.

VMware is looking to bring its x86 virtualization technology deeper into the data center by providing a host of new tools and services that will allow enterprises to build their own cloud computing infrastructure or allow third-party providers to host applications for their own customers.

This new emphasis on cloud or grid computing is part of an ambitious road map that VMware will detail at its 2008 VMworld conference in Las Vegas, which kicks off Sept. 16. VMware, which despite competition from Microsoft, Citrix and others is still considered the leader in x86 virtualization, is also looking to offer new ways to create a virtual desktop environment that take advantage of cloud computing as well.

This new cloud computing initiative, which VMware is calling the Virtual Datacenter OS (VDC-OS), is scheduled to start rolling out with new products and services in 2009, said Bogomil Balkansky, VMware's senior director for product marketing. VMware CEO and President Paul Maritz, a former Microsoft executive who headed up EMC's cloud computing efforts, is expected to detail the road map, which includes Virtual Datacenter, during his Sept. 16 keynote address.

While VMware will highlight its efforts at the VMworld show, the company's executives do not plan to offer pricing guidelines or a specific timetable for when the new products will be available.

The news that VMware is delving deeper into the cloud comes at time when the IT industry is starting to look at the ways a cloud or grid computing model can deliver both software and compute power on demand, while cutting down on expenses such as power and cooling. The Pew Internet & American Life survey just found that almost 70 percent of Americans with Internet access use some type of application that lives entirely on the Web.

What VMware is proposing to add to its Virtual Infrastructure suite is twofold.

The first part creates what Balkansky said is an operating system-the VDC-OS-that controls the entire data center and cloud infrastructure, including all the hardware, software and virtual machines. This will allow the data center to scale when additional computing resources are needed and allow for high availability and security.

While the VMware VDC-OS will not replace the Linux or Microsoft Windows operating systems that individual servers use to run applications, Balkansky said VMware's plans for the cloud will allow the company to touch every aspect of the data center, from the server to storage to networking. At the same time, the VMware hypervisor sits directly on the individual pieces of hardware with the OS running on top of it.

"The Virtual Datacenter Operating System has two salient characteristics," said Balkansky. "It aggregates all elements of the hardware-server, storage and network-into a logical, single resource. So, it takes these x86 commodity parts and creates a single computer out of it to provide better resiliency and maximum efficiency. This platform also has built-in services for application security, availability and scalability."