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VMware's Vision For Next-Generation Applications

VMware seeks to help build the next wave of data center applications by expanding the capabilities of its vFabric Suite.

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VMware is seeking to help build the next generation of data center applications by expanding the capabilities of its vFabric Suite. Release 5.1 of the suite announced Tuesday will enable automated use of in-memory database services and easier virtual machine-based app deployment.

The moves are aimed at Java developers, particularly those who already use VMware's Spring Framework for lightweight Java development. Enterprise Java applications frequently end up in the virtualized part of the data center. By making it easier to produce them, VMware is also making it more likely they'll be deployed on its virtual machines. It's a way for VMware to counter being the virtualizer of legacy applications, the main result so far during the server consolidation phase in the data center. With a hand in future application building, VMware is in a stronger position to be the supplier of virtualization for the future as well.

"There's a huge transition in how applications are being built today. The vast majority of apps is built using a framework of some kind," said David McJannet, senior director of product marketing. VMware is already in the framework space for developers with its Spring Framework. Now it's adding to the list of services that vFabric can provide to those apps.

[ Read how VMware has decided to attract developers building the next generation of virtualized applications. See VMware Cloud Foundry Plays Disruptive Role. ]

The 5.1 release includes vFabric SQLFire, an in-memory, distributed database system based on GemFire, the memory caching system VMware acquired with Gemstone. The use of an in-memory database system enhances an application's ability to scale up to meet traffic. It eliminates the delays associated with seeks for data on disks. Instead, all the data has been loaded into memory and is retrieved at RAM operational speeds.

VMware, which in the past has been in competition with open source hypervisors such as Xen and KVM, has embraced more open-source code in this release of vFabric. "To reduce database costs," it has included a VMware-optimized version of the open source PostgreSQL relational database system. VFabric Postgres can serve as a data storage system to work with SQLFire and other aspects of the VMware virtualized environment, McJannet said. It is a stand-alone product, not part of vFabric.

The 5.1 release includes an addition, Application Director, which allows the creation of application templates that specify what components need to be deployed with the application. It's not unusual for a Web application to require a Web server, an application server, and a database server to be deployed with it. Application Director can assemble the specifications of each into one template, then all the parts can be automatically assembled and deployed and the template saved as a model for future use. Even when apps are built quickly, it can still be lengthy process to get them deployed without this type of automated assistance. Application Director, previously a stand-alone product for six months, is now a core component of vFabric, said McJannet.

In addition, the 5.1 release includes support for popular open source code used with Java applications, including the Apache Web Server, RabbitMQ messaging, and the Apache Tomcat lightweight application server. Because vFabric supports the runtime components of these open-source components, Spring applications can be deployed more quickly using them.

The 5.1 suite is due to become generally available in the second quarter and is priced at $1,500 per VM. SQLFire is priced at $2,500 per VM when purchased as part of vFabric Suite Advanced.

Its components indicate that the suite is geared toward helping create what in the future will be known as private cloud or public cloud applications. In the past, VMware has maintained its product line as proprietary code and had a stand-offish relationship with open source code projects. Over the past year, it has found itself benefiting from a closer relationship with open source code through its Cloud Foundry developer site. Cloud Foundry was built on open source code, with a micro version that can be downloaded and worked in locally by developers. Attracting developers to its virtualization environment is now a key goal at VMware.

Find out how to move beyond server virtualization to build a more flexible, efficient data center in the new Private Cloud Blueprint issue of Network Computing. (Free registration required.)

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