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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Support for Open Virtualization Format (OVF) 1.0 is out!

B-winstonbumpusPosted by Winston Bumpus
Director of Standards Architecture, VMware

With
the launch of VMware vSphere™ 4 and the free VMware OVF Tool
1.0
this month, we have implemented support for the DMTF OVF
1.0 specification
across a broad range of VMware products. The VMware vSphere
4 products, VMware vCenter™ 4 and VMware ESX 4, have built-in OVF support at
both the API level and directly in the VMware vSphere Client. The stand-alone
VMware OVF Tool 1.0 brings OVF 1.0 support to VMware Workstation, VMware Server
2.0, and earlier versions of VMware vCenter and ESX.

As
part of the VMware vSphere launch, we are also making many of our products
available as OVF packages, so they are readily available to deploy onto your
data center infrastructure or your desktop. These products include the VMware vSphere
Management Assistant (vMA), VMware Studio 1.0, the technology previews of
VMware vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA), VMware vCenter Server 2.5 on Linux, and VMware
vCenter Admin Portal.

VMware
has been actively involved in the development of the OVF specification since
the beginning (the initial draft specification was submitted by VMware, Dell,
IBM, Microsoft and XenSource to DMTF in
September 2007), and our first product to ship with OVF support was VMware vCenter
2.5 and VMware ESX 3.5 (February 2008). The OVF support in those products was
based on the preliminary 0.9 specification and did not cover all aspects of the
specification. Essentially, it was limited to import/export for single VM
packages. With the release of VMware vSphere 4.0, we support the DMTF OVF 1.0
standard in full, which adds a significant set of new features:

  • Support for importing and
    exporting multi-VM OVF packages (vApps)
  • Support for the OVF environment
    and OVF properties (deployment time software customization)
  • Support for the OVA format
    (distribute your packages as a single file)
  • Support for advanced disk
    compression using delta-disk hierarchies (smaller packages)
  • Support for automatic IP
    allocation and customizable URL links in the VMware vSphere client. (never
    need to go to the VM console anymore when installing a virtual appliance)
  • Backwards compatible with OVF
    packages generated by earlier products (ready to use)

On the VMware vApp Developer blog, the engineering team behind OVF will start to dig into the
details about all these new features and how they can be put to practical use -
both by IT administrators and virtual appliance authors. So if you are
wondering about the technical details and how to apply OVF in practice, that is
a good place to go to learn more.

VMware
is pleased to be a part of the newly announced
DMTF Virtualization Management (VMAN) Forum. The group will promote interoperability between products that support the VMAN
standards. The forum will develop and conduct programs to determine
specification conformance in the areas of system virtualization management,
virtual system management, and the open
virtualization format
.

We
believe that OVF is an important standard to enable interoperability as well as
increasing capabilities while greatly reducing the time for customers to deploy
new applications and services.

[Update 2: Updated the blog link to point to the new VMware vApp Developer blog.]

[Update 1: Clarified first sentence: a technology preview of the VMware OVF Tool was released last year, but version 1.0 of the tool was released this month on May 21.]

Bringing Cloud to Enterprise IT

[photo of Dan Chu]

Posted by Dan Chu
Vice President, Emerging Products and Markets

All clouds
are not created equal.  Google recently
posted a blog entitled “What we talk about when we talk about cloud computing” which
outlines what Google perceives as advantages to its approach to cloud.  While VMware agrees that a major part of
future enterprise architectures will reside in the cloud, we differ greatly on
our approach.

To save
everyone the time and energy, the summary of their post is essentially that
Google uses cheap hardware that they expect to fail and smart software to build
the equivalent of a giant computer, that Google AppEngine can deliver the cloud
for traditional IT, and that the Google model can produce the fastest
innovation for end customers. 

Google has a
valid and interesting model but we are finding that it simply doesn’t work for the
vast of majority of business IT.  Let’s
address the issues individually:

1. Building the Giant Computer

Google says
that they take “a large set of low cost commodity systems and [tie] them
together into one large supercomputer” with their software.  Fundamentally, we agree with this approach as
we have done exactly this for thousands of customers over the last 10
years.  Using virtualization, VMware’s
solutions have become the de-facto standard for customers looking to improve
the efficiency of their datacenters while saving costs.

Over
130,000 customers run VMware and
over 55% of VMware datacenter
customers have standardized on the VMware platform.  Companies like Lockheed Martin
and GE
are building their own internal clouds using VMware.

While we
are aligned on the overall direction, the Google blog claims that their scale and
approach of managing servers lends a key advantage.  If companies had unlimited resources and were
able to build massive datacenters with all of these commodity servers, the
Google model may be the way to go.  However,
this isn’t the picture of most datacenters today.  What virtualization is able to provide is
improved performance of applications, improved utilization of existing
resources and nearly unlimited scalability. And VMware offers what many customers require—choice. In fact, more than 500 service providers including major global
players like  AT&T,
Savvis
and Terremark offer VMware as their platform to deliver services.  In a recent survey of top global managed
service providers, every one of the top ten ran on VMware.

The VMware vision is to enable customers to run the
giant computer through software on top of standard hardware, to be able to choose
seamlessly to either run in their internal cloud or in an external service
provider cloud, and to provide connectivity and consistent manageability between
the two.    

2. Leveraging an Enterprise-class Cloud

Google
follows up by promoting its AppEngine stack as the way to deliver capacity and
scaling for applications and databases, “to deliver the set of scalable services
that customers would otherwise have to maintain themselves in a virtualization
model.”

This sounds
good, until you run into the issue of trying to run your core applications on
AppEngine.  Customers are looking to
match their IT platform to their business needs, not the inverse. The Google approach calls for a least common
denominator set of non integrated cloud services that everyone squeezes into. Customers
want the flexibility and breadth of solutions that exist today along with the
efficiency of the cloud.   Customers are
not about to re-write or modify their applications so that they can run in a
specific cloud.  In particular, given
current macro-economic circumstances, customers have a high priority for a
cloud platform that can take their existing apps, and enable them to take
advantage of the cloud.  

Finally,
customers want advanced business continuity, availability, and management
capabilities for production, enabled by such technologies as VMotion, High Availability, Fault Tolerance, Storage VMotion,
and SRM.  Today customers are broadly using these
capabilities and VMware’s service
provider partners are also delivering these as a service.  For example, T-Systems has built a solution
practice and large customer footprint for running SAP implementations in their VMware-based cloud.

The Google
blog further suggests that “there is limited value to running an Exchange
Server in a virtual machine” and that customers should just use Gmail.  Enterprises aren’t going to move off an
enterprise class mail platform for a personal-use platform.  To take Exchange as an example, it represents
the kind of business-critical core IT application that is what customers want
running on VMware today.   It is consistently one of our top several
workloads being run on VMware, and
we have invested in a lot in ongoing performance work with Exchange. In fact, IBM has demonstrated industry-leading
capacity of Exchange mailboxes where customers can scale Exchange greater
horizontally with VMware than
natively on regular hardware.  

3. Innovating with Cloud

The Google
blog closes by asserting that “IT systems are typically slow to evolve,” and
that Google is much faster to innovate.  
This supposition is mostly focused on Google Apps and its pace for new
feature rollout.  This is fine for
customers who are looking for exactly the features that Google happens to be
working on, but for any other IT needs that a customer might have, the Google
stack is a black box to the customer without the component architecture that
lets many different types of partners integrate and contribute their new
technologies.  In contrast, VMware embraces and extends the entire X86 ecosystem
of thousands of ISV’s along with hundreds of service providers to bring the
cloud to customers on their own terms. There is nothing like that for Google’s
cloud.   

Summary

For
customers looking to maintain the flexibility to move back and forth between
the external cloud and internal IT, Google’s proprietary platform is like the
“Hotel California or the roach motel” where your apps go in, but they never
come out.  

VMware provides choice—allowing customers to put new and existing
applications where they want, when they want.  
So in a nutshell, if you’re a business of pretty much any size and want
to consume cloud services, there are options that allow you more flexibility,
reliability, compatibility and mobility. 

And if
you’re already a VMware user,
leverage what you know about the reliability and compatibility of VMware VMs to run the cloud internally or with cloud
providers worldwide like SunGard, T-Systems, Tata Communications, and many more.
With VMware, the cloud isn’t something “out there” as simply a destination to
get to; it’s a new “state of IT” that can also come to you.

Dan Chu is vice president of Emerging Products and Markets for VMware.  He
leads
VMware’s efforts in the areas of small and medium business,
virtual appliances, and cloud computing.