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VMware Stakes Out Data Center Cloud Leadership

Not everybody may be ready for the virtual data center, but VMware keeps filling holes in the product line as if one day they will be.

VMware expanded on the Datacenter Services announcement it made in August to say a leading provider of business communications in Europe, Colt, has signed up its first customers to use VMware virtual infrastructure operations in the cloud as well as on premises. Datacenter Services are meant to encourage hybrid cloud operations by VMware customers and provides the means to manage a workload, regardless of which data center it's running in.

Colt will be hosting workloads from Fidelity Investment Managers and Carphone Warehouse, Europe's largest mobile phone retailer via 1,700 retail outlets. Both are marquis customers meant to illustrate the feasibility of such hybrid operations. VMware has three such cloud provider partners in the United States: BlueLock, Terremark, and Verizon Business.

The Copenhagen gathering also served as the stage to upgrade VMware's application building platform, vFabric, based on the Spring Framework that the company acquired when it purchased SpringSource a year ago.

VFabric will be offered as a service for application development through the Falls Church, Va., firm CSC (Computer Sciences Corp.). While vFabric offers the same Java framework for development as Spring, the CSC Java development platform is likely to be combined with the application monitoring capabilities of the Hyperic open source monitoring tool. "CSC will be... assessing the potential use of Hyperic in the monitoring and performance management of these Spring applications," the announcement said. Hyperic is also owned by VMware.

The combination could prove significant. Building applications for cloud computing frequently requires them to be assembled as services that can be called independently. There's an additional wrinkle in that it's been difficult to get an adequate view of how well those services are running in the cloud as traffic ramps up. By combining a development and deployment platform with a monitoring service, VMware is threatening to get another step ahead of the competition.

Another upgraded component of vFabric is Gemfire 6.5, a data caching system that manages data across a pool of server memories to speed up application operations. VMware acquired Gemstone in May. The Copenhagen announcement marked the first time the data caching system, used in complex financial services and federal agency applications, has become available through a mainstream Java development platform.

With its data center ambitions and application reach, VMware is starting to combine virtualization with future cloud application operations. Look for a variety of metrics to be embedded in future vFabric applications that lead to remote monitoring and management of cloud applications, whether they're running on premises or in a public cloud. VMware sits at a new data center control point and it seems intent on showing customers what's become possible from there.

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