VMware Offers More Details About Upcoming Virtualization, Cloud Offerings

As the VMworld conference continues, VMware is sharing details about some of the new virtualization offerings that it will bring out in the next year. These VMware virtualization products will fit into VMware's vision for building cloud computing infrastructure for both enterprises and third-party hosting providers. The improvements include updates to the VMware ESX Server hypervisor and new management capabilities with VMware Virtual Infrastructure and vCenter.

LAS VEGAS-While much of the talk at VMworld has focused on VMware's concept of building and managing cloud computing infrastructures, the company's executives have said little about how the company plans to pull all the different parts together into one set of offerings.

That changed on the second day of the show here when Stephen Herrod, VMware's CTO, detailed some of the improvements and new products that VMware will offer through its upcoming cloud computing and data center suite now called Virtual Datacenter OS or VDC-OS. Herrod delivered this message during his Sept. 17 keynote address.

The first of these improvements will begin to appear in 2009, when VMware will update its Virtual Infrastructure suite to Version 4.0 and then update its core ESX Server hypervisor. Right now, the ESX hypervisor can allow virtual machines to support up to four virtual CPUs processors and 64GB of RAM. Once the update is pushed out, ESX will be able to create virtual machines that can handle eight virtual CPUs and 256GB of RAM.

Since the upcoming VDC-OS will touch all aspects of the data center-servers, storage and networking-VMware is also planning to update its offerings around storage and networking, called Infrastructure vServices. The company also plans to open up its APIs to allow ISVs to write applications that will plug into the different components of the VDC-OS.

On the networking side, VMware already announced that Cisco Systems has developed a virtual software switch called the Nexus 1000V. This virtual switch should make it easier to move virtual machines around a network using VMware's VMotion. It will allow administrators to set consistent policies throughout the network.

For storage, VMware is also planning to open up its APIs to third parties in order to provide better management features. Within its vStorage offerings, VMware also plans to blend in some existing technologies, such as Storage VMotion, and upcoming features such as thin provisioning, which should help get more mileage out of shared storage.

In addition to these features, VMware also plans to build out the fault tolerance and high-availability features in its suite offering. While VMware already ships a high-availability tool, it will now add VMware Fault Tolerance, which creates a shadow copy of a virtual machine that will kick in if there is a hardware failure.

VMware is also planning to offer more tools within its VirtualCenter management console, now renamed vCenter.

One of several new features that users can look for is a tool called AppSpeed, which will monitor the performance of virtual machines and should ensure that applications run and have enough compute power allocated to the workload at hand. VMware developed AppSpeed with technology acquired in May when VMware bought B-hive Networks.

VMware is also looking to expand its user base for vCenter, and Herrod announced that vCenter can now run on top of Linux. The announcement was enough to draw a large cheer from the crowd that had come to listen to the keynote.

In the past, the vCenter management console could only run on top of Microsoft Windows. Since many of the cloud computing infrastructures being built use Linux-IBM uses Linux in many of the cloud computing facilities that it is building-VMware's support for vCenter on Linux is a logical next step for the virtualization company.

Finally, Herrod also talked about allowing IT managers to access vCenter from a host of mobile devices, which will include the Apple iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry.