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.”
Welcome to the vCloud
At the same time, VMware will offer a set of tools for third-part hosting providers under a plan called vCloud. This allows service providers, such as Verizon, to offer cloud services, while allowing an enterprise to federate with an external cloud. For example, a business can move an application over to a hosting provider, let it sit in that external data center for some length of time and then bring that application back into the internal data center.
What ultimately VMware is attempting to offer, according to Balkansky, is to allow enterprises to build data centers that resemble those being built by Google and Amazon.
To build out these capabilities and to emulate Google’s data center infrastructure, VMware is promising to bring out a host of new features that will be integrated both into the Virtual Infrastructure suite and its management console formerly called VirtualCenter and now dubbed vCenter.
Some these new features include VMware Fault Tolerance, which will create a spare copy of a virtual machine and will use that VM if the hardware fails. VMware is also offering VMsafe, which will stop viruses and malware. To create VMsafe, VMware opened up some of its APIs to third-party security vendors such as McAfee and Symantec and let them create the security components.
Another feature called VMware vApp uses the Open Virtual Machine format that encapsulates all the various parts of a multitier application. It also allows the owner of that application to set policies and then keep track of that application within the data center.
With vCenter, VMware plans to incorporate some existing life cycle management features, such as Lab Manager and Stage Manager, with new features to allow IT departments to better monitor and control the cloud infrastructures they create.
On the desktop side, VMware is looking to expand beyond its current offering, which falls under the Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, into a new category called VMware View, which will allow an IT department to deliver applications to a range of devices beyond a desktop to a laptop or another mobile device. All of these applications will be delivered and managed from a common platform and interface.
The VMware View suite will also give users the ability to have an offline mode that will allow a device to sync back when there is a network connection, said Jeff Jennings, vice president of Desktop Products and Solutions for VMware.