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Nimbula Supports VMware, But Not As Cloud Partner

Nimbula Director 2.0 shakes hands with VMware's ESXi, but only for the purpose of building Amazon-like clouds.

Nimbula, the company that includes two key designers of the Amazon EC2 cloud, introduced Monday the second version of its operating system for private clouds, Director 2.0, with new support for VMware virtual machines.

In its first release last year, Nimbula Director supported open source Xen and Red Hat's open source KVM hypervisor. In this release, it's supporting VMware's ESXi, the embedded version of VMware's hypervisor found on new virtualization host servers.

In supporting ESXi, however, Nimbula isn't exactly boosting VMware. It recognizes that many enterprise virtualization users have implemented ESX Server as their virtualization environment, but it's not interested in furthering the build-out of a VMware software-based cloud infrastructure using such products as VMware's vCloud Director, vSphere 4, and vCenter.

On the contrary, it's giving VMware customers the option of ignoring that cloud stack and building out an Amazon-like internal cloud that works with Amazon Web Services' public cloud. Amazon's AMI virtual machine file format is not compatible with VMware's, so VMware-based workloads don't automatically run in the AWS cloud. But Director 2.0 can translate between them.

[ Want to learn more about how VMware plans to compete with public cloud options? See VMware Rapidly Expands Cloud Partner Network. ].

Amazon has a stronger cloud infrastructure model when is comes to scaling and flexibility; virtualization software vendors can't match it, said Nimbula founders Chris Pinkham, CEO, and Willem van Biljon, VP of products, in previous interviews. Pinkham is the former chief architect of EC2; van Biljon was the drafter of the AWS business plan.

"We are trying to free VMware customers from the restrictions of the VMware cloud," said Jay Judkowitz, director of product marketing, in an interview.

Director 1.0 and 1.5 came out last year able to provision virtual machines, manage groups of host servers, and establish a pool of storage for virtual servers. The 2.0 version extends management of workloads up to the applications, allowing the orchestration of complex applications with more than one part, with Director monitoring and managing the ongoing operation of the multiple parts.

Director 2.0 can identify what services are expected to work with a core application and orchestrate the launch of all the parts, monitor their operations, and manage the application over its lifecycle. For example, if the database tier of an application being managed by Director 2.0 failed, but the Web user interface and core business logic continued functioning, Director would know to relaunch the database system to restore service.

Director 2.0 can also take a service previously available to one application and make it a standard service available to a set of applications. An application might have a DNS backup service that would allow a new address to be substituted in case an old one failed for some reason. Or it could make VLAN services available to those virtual machines that need secure networks.

The current version of Director runs on SELinux, the extra hardened and secure version, as well as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and other plain vanilla Linuxes.

Since the 1.5 release of Director, the Nimbula system has been able to manage pooled, virtualized resources in multiple geographic locations as a single entity.

Nimbula is available for free download and operation on infrastructure that consists of not more than 40 cores; commercial support is available. After 40 cores, Nimbula charges an annual subscription price of $300 per core, said Judkowitz.

IT's jumping into cloud services with too much custom code and too little planning, our annual State of Cloud Computing Survey finds. The new Leap Of Cloud Faith issue of InformationWeek shows you what to be aware of when using the cloud. Also in this issue: Cloud success stories from Six Flags and Yelp, and how to write a SAN RFI. (Free registration required.)

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