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VMware Fights Lock-In Fears, Supports Rival Tools

VMware revamps vCloud Suite management tools to work with Microsoft's Hyper-V, Citrix Systems' XenServer, and open source Xen and KVM hypervisors, and run VMs across public and private clouds, including Amazon's EC2.
VMware has succeeded in virtualizing enterprise data centers to the point where it's trying to convince customers they don't need to be afraid of their virtualization vendor's continued success. It will not lock them into either VMware private or public clouds, even though it has built up software stacks for each.

In its first upgrade to vCloud Suite 5.1, a set of software for building and managing pooled and virtualized resources, VMware is adding the ability to recognize and manage non-VMware hypervisors and move workloads to a non-VMware public cloud, including Amazon Web Services' EC2.

VCloud Suite was introduced at VMware's user group meeting in San Francisco on Aug. 28. The update offered six weeks later adds a new application to the suite, vCloud Automation Center, which will give customers the choice of provisioning workloads in non-VMware environments. The addition comes from its July acquisition of DynamicOps, the cross-hypervisor management firm created by a spin-off group from inside Credit Swisse.

[ What do cloud executives think? Read Google CIO: Enterprise Software A Racket. ]

"We're supporting Amazon EC2. We didn't before. You can now provision to any cloud environment," said Rob Smoot, senior director of vCloud product marketing, in an interview.

[ Want to see what VMware acquired with its purchase of DynamicOps? See VMware Buys DynamicOps, Accelerates Software-Defined Data Center. ]

The new vCloud Automation Center 5.1 module is able to recognize and work with virtual machines running under different hypervisors, including Microsoft's Hyper-V, Citrix Systems' XenServer, and open source Xen and KVM. It establishes the equivalent of a cross-cloud storefront, where end users may commission servers based on IT policies, then designate where they are to run.

VCloud Automation Center allows the VMware customer to use both their on-premises VMware-based private cloud, a public cloud supplier adhering to VMware's vCloud suite, or a public cloud provider, such as Amazon or Microsoft Azure, using its own hypervisor approach. The goal of the DynamicOps acquisition, said Smoot, was to extend management capabilities for both the VMware customer bent on making full use of VMware-based cloud facilities and the customer moving beyond them. Either one can manage the cloud resources they want to use from a single management console.

Automation Center works in conjunction with an upgraded vFabric Application Director 5.0, a product for deploying standard applications with the right operating system and middleware, according to IT-determined blueprints. The product is integral to vCloud Suite operations, but it can also be used with applications not typically run in a VMware virtual machine, such as Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and Sharepoint, Smoot said.

It's more typical for Application Director to be used to deploy custom enterprise Java applications, Ruby on Rails applications, or enterprise Microsoft .Net custom apps. VMware is expanding its support for widely adopted Microsoft applications to make them part of the vCloud-based environment, Smoot said.

To some extent, the additions to vCloud Suite can be seen as VMware maneuvering to answer critics who say VMware customers are about to get locked-in to an all-VMware product set, when they should be considering an alternative, such as OpenStack. The open source code project backed by established and startup companies, is trying to build a freely available and commercially supported cloud suite that will compete with VMware.

vCenter Operations Management Suite 5.6, another component of vCloud Suite, now employs analytics to match up planned performance of a virtual machines with its configuration specs and the capacity of the resources assigned to it. vCenter Operations combines three functions for virtual systems that are normally kept separate in the physical world: configuration management, capacity management, and performance management.

vCenter Operations is free in the basic Foundation version. It also comes in a Standard version, which adds capacity monitoring; Advanced, which adds management of the physical as well as virtual infrastructure; and Enterprise, which adds the ability to see application and operating system level operation throughout the infrastructure.

VCloud Suite is priced at $4,995 per CPU, with no VRAM or other limits. The VRAM approach to pricing was rejected by new CEO Pat Gelsinger as he assumed office soon after the start of VMworld in August.