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VMware Woos Java Developers With vFabric 5

Jabbing at Micorsoft Azure, VMware offers more middleware flexibility to developers who produce applications for virtualized data centers or the cloud.

VMware announced Tuesday it will include a suite of middleware services with the Spring Framework for Java developers in a new offering called vFabric 5. The combination is meant to serve developers producing applications for the virtualized part of the data center or for cloud applications.

Providing such a bundle will give VMware a stronger position with which to compete with Microsoft, with its development tools geared for use with its Azure cloud, or with the rapidly evolving platforms in the Amazon cloud, such as Heroku or Engine Yard for Ruby developers, or Zend Technologies' Zend Server on Amazon for PHP developers.

VFabric 5 allows a server administrator to deploy some or all of the middleware components with a Java application, "depending on what virtual machine characteristics you want," said David McJannet, director of product marketing for VMware applications. For example, a Java application expected to scale might be assigned two instances of VMware's tc Server to work with its virtual machine. With vFabric 5, different virtual machines can take on different capabilities and performance characteristics, said McJannet.

McJannet said the following seven components will be included with the Spring Framework in vFabric 5:

--vFabric tc Server with Elastic Memory for Java. Tc Server is an enterprise version of the popular Apache Tomcat server, a lightweight Java application server. Tc Server is a previous Spring Framework add-on component. It's now integrated with VMware's virtualization management environment, vSphere, so that Java applications running in virtual machines under a single ESX hypervisor can make use of a pool of memory. Tc Server can make use of multiple heap memory allotments, combining them into a pool and managing Java applications more effectively using the pool. Heap memory is the amount of memory a Java application server allots to an application at startup. Because Java will conduct garbage collection as a memory management function across the heap, effective operations are typically limited to 2-3 GB of memory; tc Server increases this limit, allowing an application to use more memory and more easily scale up to more users, said McJannet in an interview.

--vFabric GemFire is a server memory-caching system that creates a pool of server random access memory for a running application. Pulling both application logic and the data it needs out of RAM allows a Java application to perform better. Modules of the application can be moved off of disk and remain readily available in RAM as well as database data, McJannet said.

--vFabric SQLFire makes use of server RAM in the same manner as GemFire and imposes an SQL interface for data retrieval instead of an API that knows how to go to disk. Data may then be retrieved through SQL statements.

--RabbitMQ is a frequently used open source message queuing system used by Java programmers using the Spring Framework. With vFabric RabbitMQ, the message store and forward process can be built into applications to be run in virtual machines or in the cloud, McJannet said.

--Spring Insight is a production version of the open source code, Spring Insight, used by Spring Framework developers for optimizing their Java code as it's developed. In the operational environment, vFabric 5's Spring Insight Operations allows operators to find bottlenecks in running applications and diagnose sources of slowdown in the code, McJannet said. Spring Insight has been integrated with vSphere to collect virtual machine operational data from it, he said.

---vFabric Hyperic is another component of vFabric 5, making use of the Hyperic application's ability to view virtual machine activity and build a reporting dashboard, making use of the colors green, yellow, and red, to indicate normal operations versus problem areas. Hyperic can view Java applications whether running on unvirtualized hosts, in virtual machines in the data center, or in virtual machines in the cloud.

--vFabric Web Server is a version of the Apache Web Server bundled into vFabric 5.

vFabric 5 will be generally available in late summer at a price of $1,200 per virtual machine for the standard edition and $1,800 per virtual machine for the advanced edition.

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