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Monthly Archives: June 2011

CloudCleaner: Features and Benefits of VMware Labs Latest Fling

By: Matt Sarrel

If you’re like me then you are constantly changing configurations and redeploying virtual machine images. There can be a problem with this because host machines on the vCenter Server managed by vCloud Director can end up with orphaned resources if vCloud Director is removed.
 
Now this problem has a solution: CloudCleaner, a free product that helps restore these systems to a clean state. It selectively (or completely) removes all vCloud Director-created virtual machines, resource pools, network pools, and networks. It can also unprepare hosts that have been prepared by vCloud Director.
 
CloudCleaner Removes:

  • VMs (created by vCD)
  • Resource pools (created by vCD)
  • Datastore folders (created by vCD VMs)
  • Networks (created by vCD)
  • Uninstalls vCD host agents

Features:

  • Written in java, so it's cross-platform
  • Easy-to-use UI
  • Intelligent authentication handling – if your login credentials fail, you'll be given the chance to re-auth in real time
  • Fast! Uses up to 2000 simultaneous threads
  • Single jar deployment – download and run
  • Auto-detects developer settings – vCenter IP and credentials
  • Safe – auto-detects inconsistencies and repairs them
  • Secured – validates vCenter server certificates and encrypts user data

For more information, check out this video explaining CloudCleaner, narrated by Luke Terheyden, the engineer at VMware who created CloudCleaner.  

Matthew D. Sarrel (or Matt Sarrel) is executive director of Sarrel Group, a technology product testing, editorial services, and technical marketing consulting company.  He also holds editorial positions at pcmag.com, eweek, GigaOM, and Allbusiness.com, and blogs at TopTechDog.

Know Your Social Media Audience: Recent @vCloud Survey Results

In the past year we've grown @vCloud to over 11,000 followers thanks to your support. The growth of the VMware vCloud ecosystem has been very exciting, and as our cloud story evolved, so did our social media community. We enjoy interacting and engaging with our followers on a regular basis. That’s why last month, we decided to learn more about our followers – who they are, what they do, why they follow us, and what they’re interested in. We invited our tweeps to take our audience survey and lend us their insight. 

We made some interesting discoveries about our Twitter audience and wanted to share the results with our readers. Here are the key takeaways:

Audience1

Occupation? The majority of our followers are IT Administrators. 

Size of their enterprise? Our followers are fairly split between SMBs and large enterprises.

Cloud Deployment? The majority of our Twitter audience currently deploys a private cloud. A large portion of our followers have no cloud solution depoloyed, and are following the feed to learn. In 2011, one goal for many IT admins is figuring out what to do in the cloud. 

 Also…

  • 61% of our audience considers VMware the leader in the cloud.
  • 64% either work for or with VMware service providers and partners.
  • 74% deploys some kind of virtualized infrastructure or cloud service. Many respondents said they deploy the full suite of VMware tools. Those who responded “no” also noted they were looking to deploy VMware products soon.

  Audience2 

As a way to thank all of our participants, we recently mailed out Starbucks gift cards to our respondents.

We hope to continue to provide our followers with useful content about VMware, vCloud and how cloud computing can benefit your business, small or large. Feel free to tweet @vCloud, or our Service Provider handle, @VMwareSP, with questions, comments, or to learn more about VMware solutions. 

NYSE Offers VMware-based Cloud for Financial Firms

By: Matt Sarrel

Recently, the New York Stock Exchange announced that its cloud computing service, built on VMware, will offer enhanced security and rapid access to NYSE market data.
 
NYSE has also established minimum computing requirements in order to ensure a high quality experience and to avoid performance problems. NYSE’s cloud customers must purchase a minimum of 500 GB of storage and 96 GB of RAM. Each VM must also be configured to use at least 8 GB of RAM.
 
In the past, I’ve been involved in numerous projects that were hosted by NYSE or some other exchange in their data center. Typically, I would buy a server, ship it to them and lease a network drop plus bandwidth, with guaranteed market data feed and trade execution times. More recently, it’s become much easier to lease a bare metal server and install our software on it. But now, with its new cloud computing service, NYSE makes the process even easier by enabling users to start with a virtual machine. This means users can now develop and test trading software on a VM and then push the VM directly to NYSE. As James Staten of Forrester points out, this ability also means that financial firms can compete “on their trading algorithms, market insights and knowledge,” without the location of your server and “big money prioritization” creating an uneven playing field. That’s very cool.
 
This way financial firms can focus on what they do best. No, not getting rich off of fat maintenance fees while taking unconscionable risks with clients money, but rather developing new strategies and investment tools, analysis of existing tools, and developing and testing algorithm based trading systems. The underlying network, storage, and compute resources are provided for them securely.
 
Financial firms manage their cloud environments through vCloud Director, which I’ve been blogging about for quite some time. With this new cloud computing service from NYSE, they can now provision an OS and then remote in to provision applications on top of the OS.
 
The cloud launched from the NYSE’s new data center in Mahwah, NJ and will expand to locations in London, Toronto and Tokyo later this year.

For more information, be sure to check out Mathew Lodge’s post on the RethinkIT blog – he offers an interesting perspective on what this move by NYSE means for the future of cloud computing, as internal IT organizations and external cloud service providers work to offer more flexible infrastructure to meet customer specific needs.

Matthew D. Sarrel (or Matt Sarrel) is executive director of Sarrel Group, a technology product testing, editorial services, and technical marketing consulting company.  He also holds editorial positions at pcmag.com, eweek, GigaOM, and Allbusiness.com, and blogs at TopTechDog.

Join VMware and iland Cloud for Tomorrow’s Webinar on Connecting vSphere to the Cloud in Under 15 Minutes

By: Matt Sarrel

Tomorrow at 8:00am Pacific Time, iland cloud infrastructure will be hosting a live webinar to discuss how you can integrate your existing VMware vSphere or VMware vCloud Director environment with iland vCloud Services using the VMware vCloud Connector.  
 
The vCloud Connector plug-in allows you to integrate external and internal cloud environments in order to migrate virtual machines and virtual apps back and forth or to cloudburst if necessary. You also get a single interface through which you can manage public and private clouds.
 
Iland is one of the first cloud services to earn the distinction of becoming vCloud Powered. This means that iland’s services are based on VMware vSphere and vCloud Director and use the vCloud API and support for Open Virtualization Format (OVF) so virtual machine images can easily be uploaded and downloaded. VMware and iland are both committed to this, in fact, last year VMware awarded iland the Service Provider Partner of the Year award.  
 
The important thing is that we’re now beginning to see unification in the management of public and private clouds.  This paves the way for the most likely usage scenario for most medium and large business: a hybrid (public/private/hosted private) cloud.  

By choosing a vCloud Powered designated Service Provider, you can be assured the Service Provider has made the commitment and investment to offer their cloud computing solutions and services expertise in conjunction with VMware’s virtualization and cloud infrastructure solutions. This provides a comprehensive, market-leading virtualization and cloud infrastructure offering for your business and technical needs.

Be sure to follow @VMwareSP for live tweets during tomorrow’s webinar, as well as the @iland_cloud handle for future updates. 

Matthew D. Sarrel (or Matt Sarrel) is executive director of Sarrel Group, a technology product testing, editorial services, and technical marketing consulting company.  He also holds editorial positions at pcmag.com, eweek, GigaOM, and Allbusiness.com, and blogs at TopTechDog.

VMware vCloud Director Benefits: What They Mean to Actual Virtual Environment Operations

By: Matt Sarrel

I was browsing the web this morning and I came across a white paper, VMware vCloud Director: Build Secure Private Clouds to Deliver Infrastructure as a Service. Although this document is geared towards private clouds, it is equally valid in public cloud deployments.

VMware vCloud Director gives customers the ability to build secure private clouds that dramatically increase datacenter efficiency and business agility. Coupled with VMware vSphere, the best platform for cloud infrastructures, VMware vCloud Director delivers cloud computing for existing datacenters by pooling virtual infrastructure resources and delivering them to users as catalog-based services.

VMware vCloud Director is also touted as having the following key benefits:

  • Increase business agility by empowering users to deploy preconfigured or custom-built services with the click of a button.
  • Maintain security and control over multi-tenant environments with policy-based user controls and VMware vShield security technologies.
  • Reduce costs by efficiently delivering resources to internal organizations as virtual datacenters to increase consolidation and simplify management.
  • Leverage existing investments and open standards to ensure interoperability and application portability between clouds.

Let's see what those mean when it comes to actual virtual environment operations.

Preconfigured and custom-built services form the basis of the self-provisioning cloud. In this way, an administrator can configure several core VM's and then allow users to bring them up or down as needed without having to configure them. By removing the step where an admin has to configure a VM, an internal or external cloud can help your business shift gears with respect to IT much faster than the previous paradigm of one app to one server.

Security in VMware vCloud Director does provide control for multi-tenant user environments through policy based user controls (who can do what with what and when) and VMware vShield (think of this as something like a virtual firewall that keeps different environments separate within a big multi-tenant cloud).

I'll skip the bullet point that vCloud Director reduces costs by increasing efficiency. I'm not sure there's anyone left who would argue that virtual environments decrease efficiency, although there's always at least one person willing to argue about anything via Twitter (I'm @msarrel for those who want to start something).

The last bullet point is where it gets really interesting, especially in the context of Virtacore's vCloud offering. Application portability between clouds. That sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Look at the evolution – first we had apps running on servers, then apps running on VM's on servers, then apps running on multiple servers within a cloud, and now we've got apps running on multiple clouds.

The idea of cloudbursting, where excess load is pushed beyond the internal cloud and out to the external/public when it is needed, is particularly interesting. For example, a sales group might have an internal cloud running CRM and order management applications. At the end of the quarter, when orders are coming in like mad, IT can transparently utilize an external cloud to handle the additional capacity. VMware vCloud Director makes this possible by establishing firewall rules between your public cloud instances and the rest of the world so that only your employees can access your VM's, plus it makes moving and on-the-fly provisioning easier and faster.

This is where I think Virtacore’s vCloud offering is going to get really interesting, because the management interface can be used to cloudburst almost as easily as dragging and dropping.

Matthew D. Sarrel (or Matt Sarrel) is executive director of Sarrel Group, a technology product testing, editorial services, and technical marketing consulting company.  He also holds editorial positions at pcmag.com, eweek, GigaOM, and Allbusiness.com, and blogs at TopTechDog.