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VMware Bridges Data Center, Cloud

In his VMworld keynote, CEO Paul Martz outlined the company's plans to provide seamless management consoles for internal and cloud-based virtual machines.

VMware will drive its vSphere 4 and vCenter product lines toward comprehensively virtualizing data center resources, then give IT managers the option of sliding out a fraction for operation in an external cloud.

"We will extend our management tools so that you can think of a set of your resources as a virtual data center. You'll be able to take a virtual data center and slide it out to operate in an external cloud," said Paul Maritz, president and CEO of VMware, at the opening keynote of VMworld Tuesday in San Francisco.

He acknowledged that for such a concept to work, the vCenter management consoles will need to be the same for the virtual machines inside the enterprise and those that have been migrated to the cloud. "If it looks radically different, we haven't done very much for you," he added. VMware isn't there yet, but the goal is to manage both "from a single pane of glass; they should look the same."

To bring such a concept closer to reality, VMware has released its vCloud API that allows third parties to provide products and services to VMware virtual machines operating in the cloud. The API will be submitted to a standards body and put in the public sphere, he said, but didn't name the standards organization.

VMware is working closely with IBM to reduce power consumption in the data center. Tom Brey, IBM's senior technical staff manager for power management, said the company's Active Energy Manager is now integrated with vSphere and can determine which virtual machines are idling or have light workloads. It can then dial back the power fed to those servers to save energy. The tool shows a color-coded graph of a set of data center servers. The ones operating inefficiently are red; those that are giving good output for the watt consumption are marked by green triangles.

Much of Maritz's address looked to the future when more of the data center has been brought under the eye of virtualization controls. "There are really no applications any longer that can't get the benefit of virtualization," he said.

VMware will seek to provide the infrastructure for bridging between the data center, particularly the data center re-organized as an internal cloud, and the external cloud. Such a data center can be managed much like the IBM mainframe as a single, giant computer, producing 350,000 operations a second, but can be built from low cost Intel and AMD server parts.

VMware will add AppSpeed application performance management in the virtual machine to its vCenter line-up by the end of the year. It has built up vCenter to include capacity planning, configuration management, operations management, and business continuity, Maritz said.

Maritz also addressed the pending acquisition of SpringSource, the company behind the open source Spring Framework which enables lightweight development of complex Java applications. The Spring platform can be geared to produce applications for virtualized environments, and vSphere 4 "can take information out of the framework and use it to manage the giant computer underneath." The $366 million acquisition is waiting on regulatory approvals.

Maritz also announced that VMware is offering a special package, "a data center in a box," for small and medium business, called vSphere Essentials, at a price of $166 per processor.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on server virtualization. Download the report here (registration required).

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