As other cloud vendors tout various services claiming to move their customers a step closer to hybrid cloud, VMware is trying to establish a seamless operation between its customers' virtualized data centers and its vCloud Air public cloud.
In its announcements at this year's VMworld conference this week in San Francisco, VMware will fill in several of the gaps that hinder smooth operations between the virtualized data center and the public cloud. The underlying goal is "to dynamically deploy any application or workload" to its appropriate setting, said Mark Chuang, VMware senior director of product management, in a pre-VMworld interview.
At VMworld 2015, VMware will refer to its "unified hybrid cloud platform," still a euphemism but nevertheless a clear statement of direction.
Most data center managers want to protect vital systems with a disaster recovery plan. VCloud Air now offers an enhanced Site Recovery Manager Air and a modified vCloud Air Disaster Recovery Service. VMware first offered the disaster recovery service in January, making it a one-click option in vSphere 5.1 to create a virtual private data center in the cloud that acts as a disaster recovery site. The vSphere replication service can make an image of a running system and move it into the virtual data center, where it's stored and available for activation in the event of a data center failure.
Of course there was a charge for the service. But now VMware is trying to better reflect standard public cloud pricing: You will only pay for what you use. That means there'll be a small flat fee per virtual machine stored. After that the charges you incur will be only for the actual compute time consumed in the cloud for testing or disaster recovery. There are, of course, standard storage charges on the customer's disaster recovery virtual machines at rest.
[Want to learn more about OpenStack's approach to containers? See OpenStack Now Offers 3 Ways To Deploy Containers.]
The change in approach is meant to encourage IT to think about disaster recovery in the same vein as it already thinks about other public cloud services. Pay-for-use charging makes it easier to compare the cost of disaster recovery with its worth to the company, Chuang said in the interview. Implicit in this approach is encouragement to use more disaster recovery; many systems in the enterprise still don't have it.
In addition, VMware has added a feature from an on-premises product, Site Recovery Manager, and made it available through its public cloud services. Site Recovery Manager Air will allow a customer to set up a recovery plan in the cloud, with predefined recovery procedures. It can be used to design and execute such a plan and automate periodic testing of it. Site Recovery Manager Air can be used for "complex, multi-virtual machine recovery plans," if the customer chooses to conduct them there, Chuang said.
Both vCloud Air Disaster Recovery and Site Recovery Manager Air will be available as part of an early access program in the fourth quarter.
VMware is adding two other services to its public cloud. One is vCloud Air Object Storage, which is really object storage on either the Google Cloud Platform or EMC Cloud that's been integrated into vCloud Air operations. Customers using virtual data centers may tap into the unstructured data storage service. The vCloud already has object storage in the vCloud itself, but only to support compute operations. The new Google and EMC services are meant for permanent storage, explained Angelos Kottas, senior director of cloud services product marketing, in an interview. The object storage will be available as an early access program in the third quarter, he said.
The second new service is vCloud Air SQL, an on-demand version of Microsoft's SQL Server offered from VMware's cloud. It's meant to further the notion of hybrid operations, since it can be used to extend on-premises SQL Server use into the cloud. It is available immediately as an early access or beta service.
VMware has been successful in formulating the concept of the software-defined data center. It's a term now commonly used to describe the growing dependence on software to automate and manage data center processes rather than relying on "server huggers" and network administrators. The Dublin firm Research and Markets predicts the software-defined data center will account for $77.18 billion in spending by 2020 versus $21.78 billion this year.
To advance the software-defined data center, VMware introduced the 6.2 release of its NSX virtualized networking. It can be used to pool network resources, create disaster recovery procedures for applications, and impose micro-segmented networks on physical servers. In NSX 6.2, VMware has added TraceFlow for tracking network use and Central CLI (a centralized command line interface) for many virtual networks, Chuang said. NSX 6.2 has been more tightly integrated with Site Recovery Manager 6.1, so that when a virtual machine needs to be reassigned an IP address, it can be handled automatically.
There are 20 new features in NSX 6.2, in total. Company officials will detail more of them during VMworld. It is available immediately for a perpetual license of $4,995 per CPU, or a term license at $34 per VM per month.
In other announcements, VMware is announcing upgrades to its core data center operations products.
One is vRealize Operations, 6.1, now geared more toward private cloud-like operations based on VMware virtual machines and the software-defined data center. It will have Intelligent Workload Placement capability, which can match a workload to a customer's specific business requirements for the workload. It will be able to use Proactive Rebalancing to move workloads around to best fit the available server and networking resources. It will also use predictive analytics to help IT managers identify where strains are developing in the data center that may lead to slowdown or failure.
Also to be announced is vRealize Log Insight 3, VMware's server log file analyzer, whose capacity has been doubled from 6 server nodes to 12. Its message-handling capacity has also doubled to 15,000 per second. It contains new charting options, query snapshot, analytics, and fault tolerance, Chuang said.
Finally, Version 2 of VMware's own version of OpenStack, VMware Integrated OpenStack, will be available in the third quarter. Its main distinction from the open source version is that it uses VMware ESX virtual machines as its default, as opposed to KVM VMs. Among other new features, Version 2 offers Load-Balancing-as-a-Service and support for Heat Auto Scaling to make the OpenStack cloud a better performer based on traffic distribution.Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive ... View Full Bio