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VMware Offers Hybrid Cloud Management Console

Cloud Connector aims to speed operations with a single view into any ESX Server virtual machine built with vCloud data center services.

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VMware on Tuesday began offering Cloud Connector, "a single pane of glass" or management interface for seeing VMware virtual machines, whether they're running on-premises in a private cloud or in a remote location in the public cloud.

Cloud Connector is a free plug-in addition to VMware's vSphere 4 management software suite. Adopting Cloud Connector gives a virtual machine manager a view into any ESX Server virtual machine running in a cloud built with VMware's vCloud cloud data center services. That would mean such public clouds as Verizon Communication's Computing-as-a-Service (CaaS) cloud (Verizon is in the process of buying Terremark), and BlueLock, an Indianapolis service provider. In Europe, the Colt chain of data centers supports vCloud as well. Colt's headquarters center is in London, but it has data centers in Paris; Frankfurt, Germany; Barcelona, Spain; Copenhagen, Denmark; and nine other locations.

Cloud Connector "is a management console. The administrator has a view into his own data center and any vCloud data center service provider," Joe Andrews, vCloud services director of product marketing, said in an interview. The list of such providers will grow as companies become more interested in running their internal ESX Server virtual machines in the public cloud as well, he predicted. Terremark and SingTel, the Singapore telco, are adding vCloud Datacenter Services to their cloud service in the near future.

A combined use of virtual machines running inside an enterprise data center with similar VMs running in a publicly accessible cloud data center is often referred to as hybrid cloud computing. With a hybrid cloud, it would be possible for an administrator to practice "cloud bursting," where workloads creating excessive strain on internal servers get offloaded to the public cloud. That practice would become simpler to implement if the offloaded workloads were managed the same way as the ones remaining on-premises, Andrews said.

But both locations need to be VMware friendly. Amazon's EC2 and Microsoft's Azure cloud services, for example, are not vCloud Datacenter supporters nor are they likely to become so in the near future. Andrews said the list of vCloud data centers will expand, but additions are more likely to include Rackspace or AT&T, both of which have expressed interest in supporting VMware virtual machines in the past.

The security management that's included with Cloud Connector is supplied from vSphere and vShield Edge, used by vCloud Datacenter to supply individual user identification and authorization, a secure network connection, and a perimeter firewall, Andrews said.

Operation of VMware virtual machines in the cloud is designed to be an auditable process capable of meeting SAS 70 or ISO 27001 compliance framework requirements. The virtual server creates a virtual server log, capturing software events, the same as a physical server would, he added.

VMware is attempting to position cloud computing as a complement to its strength in the data center, provided it's supplied by a compatible cloud provider. With the vSphere 4 management and Cloud Connector, the customer can view the running virtual server, reassign it resources (such as more CPU and memory), and have some assurance that the resources assigned are sufficient to do the job. Andrews contrasted that approach with a more standard infrastructure as a service (IaaS), where the customer has a harder time seeing how well his workload is running or changing the allocated resources.

VSphere and Cloud Connect "solve the noisy neighbor problem," he said, where your virtual machine lands next to another in the cloud that is making maximum demands on the physical server, slowing operation of yours as it waits for CPU cycles, access to the network interface, or network bandwidth.

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