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How vCloud Hybrid Service is Different: 10 Cloud Capabilities on vCloud Hybrid Service that Don’t Exist on AWS

By: Mathew Lodge, Vice President of Cloud Services at VMware

We first published this blog back in March, but since it’s been our most popular post to-date, we are sharing it again in case you missed it. Since March, we have shipped updates to vCloud Hybrid Service every 3-4 weeks, including a simple, cost-effective Disaster Recovery service that also simply isn’t possible on AWS. We also introduced our Desktop as a Service offering, a new low-cost Standard Storage Tier, production hybrid PaaS with Pivotal CloudFoundry, and a refreshed version of our data protection service — also something you can’t get on AWS.

With vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS), we’re firmly focused on solving enterprise customer cloud problems – especially making the transition from today’s investments in apps and data to a cloud future as easy as possible. And that means building a different kind of cloud – those that matter to enterprises. To make that very concrete for those familiar with Amazon Web Services (AWS), here are 10 things in vCHS to make that transition easier that you can’t do in AWS.

1. Free automatic availability monitoring and fast VM restart

vCHS includes hot standby redundant capacity to maximize the uptime of your application. It’s free and requires no configuration. vCHS automatically monitors all servers and if there’s a catastrophic failure, immediately re-starts all affected VMs on hot standby hardware in the same vCHS cluster. At reboot time, the VM’s file system is exactly as it was before the failure, preserving as much state as possible to allow the OS and application to recover quickly. It also has exactly the same network configuration – MAC addresses, IP addresses and so on – ensuring other VMs can communicate with the new VM without reconfiguration.

By contrast, AWS offers no redundant capacity, no automatic monitoring, and no fast VM restart. New EC2 instances don’t have the same MAC address and require extra configuration to get the same IP address. For redundancy you must buy extra instances, buy and manage a load balancer (assuming the app traffic can be load balanced), architect and code a state-sharing mechanism, buy and manage monitoring, and orchestrate VM re-start.

2. Free automatic proactive performance management

The same VMware technology that watches for server failure in vCHS also monitors the overall performance and health of servers. It’s free and there’s no configuration. If any particular server is overloaded, vCHS automatically live migrates VMs to a server with more capacity. There is no downtime and no “pausing” of the application – it just keeps on running.

The variability of AWS performance is legendary, leading users to devise cunning strategies to juice performance. One example: start more AWS instances than you need, conduct performance tests to see which ones perform well, and kill off the poorly performing instances. Rinse and repeat until you have enough working instances, and continue to monitor instances during their lifetime. With vCHS, this “Darwinian instance infanticide” isn’t necessary.

3. Non-disruptive maintenance

When AWS needs to do preventative maintenance on a server (e.g. a hypervisor security patch), your instance is going to die. There’s even an API where you can learn about when this will happen. vCHS uses live migration to move VMs to redundant server capacity, then performs maintenance on the affected server. The net? Your apps don’t stop because VMware needs to do server maintenance. There is no need for an “apology API.”

4. Create a VM of any size

With vCHS, you get to choose exactly the VM dimensions you want — any ratio of CPU, memory and disk up to the physical maxima. All VMs run on physical servers with 20Gbit/sec aggregate connectivity, unlike AWS servers with single 100Mbit or 1Gbit network cards. Unlike AWS, there is no need to process a complex decision tree of 29 instance choices (as of Feb 2014) to figure out which one you need (choose wisely because you can’t change it later). In vCHS, there is no need to over-buy CPU when all you want is high memory, or over-buy memory when all you want is good I/O.

On AWS, you have to buy up to the largest size that meets your memory or I/O requirement. If you get it wrong, then you have to pick a new instance and figure out if you can run what you want on it (not all AWS images run on all instance types), and how to transition your application without down-time, which leads me to…

5. Resize a VM or disk while it’s running

On vCHS you can add vCPU, memory and disk space to any running VM. Operating system support for adding CPU, memory and disk is present in Linux distros and Windows versions shipped since 2008. AWS instances cannot be expanded, and ensuring they can scale effectively requires careful planning (picking the right instance type and a fixed disk size) and writing code to do state sharing (adding parallel instances). Inadvertently making a bad sizing choice for horizontal scaling can put you in a world of operational pain – if, for example, your instances start running out of disk space, adding more of them just means more instances failing in exactly the same way because they’re all clones of each other.

VM and disk resize on vCHS can be a lifesaver for operations teams managing a critical application that is under load and needs more memory, disk or CPU right away. 

6. Get strong I/O performance as standard, with no clever tricks

Netflix only ever buys AWS instances that completely fill a physical server in order to eliminate the I/O performance variation that comes from multiple tenants sharing the same physical server. This is just one example of clever strategies AWS customers have devised to extract better performance, along with choosing “EBS optimized” instance types – i.e. instances that run on servers with a 1 Gig NIC card.

On vCHS, all servers have 20G of aggregate network bandwidth 20 times that of “EBS optimized” instances at AWS. Storage is a maximum of two network hops from server, unlike AWS, minimizing congestion. Couple that with the ability to have any size of VM, and you can get exactly the VM you want, with the I/O bandwidth you need.

7. Higher performance disk without paying for provisioned IOPs

The standard disk tier on vCHS is a blend of SSDs (flash) and enterprise high-end disk. The flash acts as a cache for most-recently-used blocks, and multi-tenancy of the disk subsystem is limited to improve good cache hit rates. Therefore, you get the acceleration of flash and high performance disk without having to buy higher-priced all-flash disk with I/O guarantees, or settle for AWS’ low-performance SATA-based EBS.

8. Bring your own VM without conversion, with full app vendor support

vCHS can run any VM you currently run on vSphere, Workstation or Fusion without any conversion into a proprietary format – and it’s supported by the software vendor for your application. You can also transfer and run practically any x86 physical machine running any operating system from DOS onwards, without having to switch to a special kernel or re-platform. There’s no waiting, or testing cycles to ensure that the converted VM actually works the same way. There is no arguing with your vendor about whether or not they support the deployment if it’s one of the 5,700 apps already certified on VMware.

With AWS, you must convert the VM, and that only works for a very small set of operating systems, and then covert it again if you want to export the VM. If the VM is at all dependent on any AWS services, you can’t run it in your own data center later because they don’t exist and they use proprietary APIs. You must also make sure that your software vendor can support your deployment on AWS.

9. Use the management tools you already have

vCHS can be managed by any of the VMware management toolset, third party tools that support the vCloud API, or offer generic REST API adapters. You can manage vCHS from the vSphere client (web or Windows), vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) and vCenter Operations (vCOps). This is huge for many customers because it means they don’t need a second operations team to manage cloud infrastructure – one that assumes the radically different AWS architecture and operational model, along with the “fix it yourself” approach to performance and availability.

10. Stretched layer 2 networks between data center and vCHS

VMware allows you to stretch an Ethernet (layer 2) network from your data center to vCHS, making it appear like a single flat LAN segment. The simplest way to do this is with Direct Connect, a dedicated link between your data center and vCHS. Traffic is simply bridged between vCHS and your data center using the virtual networking capabilities of vCHS. To applications, it looks like all VMs are “on net” in the same LAN segment, which is useful for those apps that have a rigid, pre-defined idea of how the network should work and can’t be easily reconfigured. AWS by comparison offers no layer 2 stretched networks, only IP (layer 3) network connectivity.

All of these capabilities are designed to make it easier to run today’s and tomorrow’s applications with high performance and high resiliency. There’s no reason going to the cloud should mean a wholesale re-architecture where you take on the burden of implementing and managing those.

For future updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook at @vCloud and Facebook.com/VMwarevCloud.

For more information about the VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, visit vCloud.VMware.com.

Bill Fathers’ “Fireside Chat” at GigaOM Structure

GigaOM Structure kicked off yesterday with an overarching focus on what the infrastructure powering next-generation applications will look like. VMware’s Hybrid Cloud Services Business Unit’s GM and SVP Bill Fathers joined in on the conversation during a “Fireside Chat” with GigaOM’s Barb Darrow to discuss:

  • The advantages of “hybridity” and openness;
  • what is top of mind for CIOs when considering public cloud;
  • data privacy and the Snowden impact and
  • the power of network virtualization.

Interested in hearing more?

Watch the replay here.

For more information about GigaOM Structure 2014, visit their website.

For future updates, follow us on Twitter at @vCloud and Facebook.com/VMwarevCloud.

Watch www.becometheITdepartment.com over the next month for insights and research on the move to hybrid cloud.

Integrating vCloud Hybrid Service with Your Existing VMware Environment

By Josh Gwyther, Senior Cloud Strategist at VMware

Everyday more of the customers I speak with are planning to migrate workloads to the cloud. I’m continually asked how vCloud Hybrid Service ranks among other cloud providers. It seems like almost weekly another vendor enters the cloud arena, making the right choice more and more foggy.

As a stand-alone cloud service, vCloud Hybrid Service is extremely powerful. vCHS has been built from the ground up as a SDDC (Software Defined Data Center). If you’re not familiar with the term SDDC, at a very high-level it can be defined as an architecture methodology that abstracts all of the functionality of your compute, network and storage infrastructure from the hardware and provides it as a service in software.

The result of vCloud Hybrid Service being architected as an SDDC means as a customer you’re going to see incredible agility in provisioning resources, enhanced security, stability, and amazing performance for even the most critical of workloads. Don’t just take my word for it. I encourage anyone interested to contact your local VMware Sales Representative to give vCloud Hybrid Service a spin.

But what truly sets vCloud Hybrid Service apart from the pack is the power you gain when integrating it with your existing VMware environment.

vCloud Hybrid Service is built on the same vSphere technology found in almost every data center today. This provides customers of vCloud Hybrid Service two distinct advantages over other cloud providers:

1. It means that any application supported by vSphere can be seamlessly migrated to vCloud Hybrid Service. No conversion, no compromises.

VMware makes it extremely easy to migrate VMs from your datacenter to vCloud Hybrid Service by providing the free vCloud Connector tool. It plugs right into vCenter allowing you to migrate VMs from vCenter to vCloud Hybrid Service within a few clicks.

2. It also means that the powerful management tools VMware provides for your private cloud can be extended to vCloud Hybrid Service.

Popular vCloud software like vCloud Automation Center can be seamlessly extended to provide a self-service provisioning mechanism into both your private cloud and your vCloud Hybrid Service instance.

All this adds up to vCloud Hybrid Service being a hybrid cloud resource that’s a true extension of your data center from an application and operational perspective.

Watch me demonstrate vCloud Hybrid Service and its integration with vSphere below.

For more information about VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, visit vCloud.VMware.com.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook at @vCloud and Facebook.com/VMwarevCloud for future hybrid cloud updates and resources.

Josh Gwyther serves as a Senior Cloud Strategist for VMware Inc., focusing on Cloud technology (vCloud Hybrid Services). His role includes relationships with key clients to drive adoption of VMware’s Cloud products, public speaking, strategy and roadmap, and driving innovation inside the company. Josh has a technical background in Computer Science, experience as an entrepreneur, and has worked in the industry for 17+ years, focusing on Virtualization and Cloud since 2006. Josh has multiple technical certifications from VMware, EMC and Cisco, with an undergraduate in Computer Science.

Accelerate Your Sales with Storage-as-a-Service using VMware Virtual SAN – Register for the 6/16 vmLIVE Session!

Are you a Service Provider looking to increase sales by offering your customers Storage-as-a-Service?

On June 16th, 8am PST, VMware will be hosting its next vmLIVE session and demonstrate how you can help accelerate sales using VMware Virtual SAN – a radically simple software-defined storage solution, optimized for virtual environments that brings an application-centric approach to storage management.

In this session, you will learn:

  • How you can offer customers storage services that successfully reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) through Capital Expenditures and Operating Expenditures;
  • How to address storage pain points;
  • How to enable common use cases;
  • And how to deliver key business benefits.

Don’t miss this vmLIVE to see how you, as a Service Provider, can boost your sales and put your organization in a competitive position.

Want to learn more? Register for the June 16 vmLIVE today.

For future updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook at @VMwareSP and Facebook.com/VMwareSP.

For more information about VMware vCloud Service Providers, visit vCloudProviders.VMware.com.

Achieving High Availability with a vCloud Service Provider

Sure TaxPhoenix Nap

As a rapidly growing company providing sales and telecommunication tax calculation software, SureTax needed to grow its IT infrastructure without making a costly investment in computing hardware. The Atlanta, Georgia-based company needed a solution that ensured both scalability and privacy, as well as a provider that would work with them to develop a strategy that could expand along with the business.

The company found a solution in Phoenix NAP’s Flexible Data Center Solutions platform. Phoenix NAP is a vCloud Service Provider, which means its cloud services are based on VMware vCloud technologies like VMware vCloud Suite, vSphere and vCenter Operations Manager.

By leveraging VMware’s recognized leadership in cloud platform solutions, Phoenix NAP easily stood out from the competition.

“Phoenix NAP showed greater willingness to bring in the right people, tailor a solution to meet our needs and deliver it at a lower price point than the competition,” said Mike Sanders, Chief Product Strategist for SureTax. “Other vendors offered fixed solutions and charged extra for customization.”

With the flexibility of a VMware vCloud-based cloud solution, Phoenix NAP is able to offer more options at a lower cost for customers in need of a secure, scalable solution — important criteria for SureTax, whose clients include AT&T and Verizon.

“By using cloud platform solutions from VMware, we could meet the service-level, security and privacy requirements of SureTax’s clients,” said William Bell, Vice President of Product Development at Phoenix NAP. “And because our infrastructure is built on commodity hardware, we could pass on significant savings to the customer.”

SureTax’s decision to leverage Phoenix NAP enabled the company to deliver customized tax collection services to more clients without taking a hit to the wallet. In fact, in less than two years, the company has already realized a return on their investment. According to Sanders, that fast return is the result of not having to hire staff, on-call personnel and having to make trips to the colocation facility to manage hardware and software.

“It’s hard to quantify the value of not having to do those things anymore,” Sanders said of the services provided by Phoenix NAP and powered by VMware vCloud. “We received a significant bang for the buck by implementing this new platform.”

To hear more about SureTax’s story, click here.

For more information on VMware vCloud Service providers, visit vCloudProviders.VMware.com.

Be sure to follow @VMwareSP on Twitter or ‘like’ us on Facebook for future updates!

VMware Leading Again… This Time With “Hybrid Cloud”

By: Jay Marshall

VMware has a rich history of taking technology buzzwords and making them commonplace. It was five years ago that we started using the term “private cloud.”   Fast-forward to today and most networking conversations include the term “software-defined.”  As we approach one full year since the announcement of vCloud Hybrid Service, it looks like we are doing it again with “hybrid cloud.”

Best of Interop

At Interop this year, it became apparent that our message had penetrated the masses when we won the award for Best Cloud. The win at Interop means that true hybrid cloud is resonating, and particularly so in the enterprise.

When we launched vCloud Hybrid Service last fall, some people thought that VMware was becoming just another cloud provider. But as our customers have adopted the platform and actually begun to reap the benefits of a hybrid cloud model, the values around seamlessly extending your data center, managing your entire cloud footprint with the same tools and skillsets, and having advanced networking topologies (which were previously only available inside your own four walls) have suddenly made cloud computing for the enterprise real. As the Interop judges put it, VMware has done the hard work of making vCloud [Hybrid Service] not just another cloud service, but one that mirrors and interoperates with the enterprise’s virtualized data center.” This is hybrid.  And this is what makes vCloud Hybrid Service different.

Beware of False Hybridity

Our Hybrid Cloud Field CTO, Simone Brunozzi, wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago about “What Hybrid Cloud Really Means” based on his speaking session at Interop. And the key takeaway is that “hybrid” is not simply bolting a VPN connection between your private data center and a public cloud provider and sharing resources across a wire. Nor is it simply the fact that you are using public cloud and private cloud resources at the same time. If that were the case, you could make the argument that many organizations have been doing “hybrid cloud” for the last 7 or more years by virtue of their use of Amazon, Salesforce, etc.

On a panel with some of my industry peers at Interop, I asked the audience,  “How many of you would define your cloud initiative as a truly hybrid cloud initiative,” and every single hand went down. At that point became crystal clear:

Enterprises have been considering cloud as a completely separate initiative from their current internal IT. 

This is the risk that organizations need to start really focusing on when considering their long-term cloud strategy. More silos of IT. More specialized skillsets. More disparate technologies. More unmanageable costs. But how many times do we have to make these same mistakes in the name of new technology?

The vCloud Hybrid Service Difference

In my session at Interop, when I described the ability to move applications back-and-forth seamlessly between an on-premises environment and vCloud Hybrid Service, the audience instantly reacted. You could almost see the gears turning as the audience envisioned what this could do for their operations. The ability to do test/dev and sandboxing projects on throwaway cloud resources is well understood. But the ability to add cloud to your existing software development lifecycle that you currently deploy on premises is unique. And viewing both your on-premises and cloud resources through one set of consolidated tools, with a single set of eyes, is a game changer.

With vCloud Hybrid Service, enterprises finally have all of the reliability, consistency, and necessary control over the application infrastructure they need, while still getting all of the agility and “on demand” resources that the cloud promises. These are the things that people realize is possible only in a hybrid model and the reason that “hybrid cloud” is here to stay.

For future updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook at @vCloud and Facebook.com/VMwarevCloud.

For more information about VMware Hybrid Cloud Service, visit vCloud.VMware.com.

Jay Marshall is a Senior Technical Marketing Architect for VMware’s vCloud Hybrid Service specializing in next generation application architecture.  He has spent almost twenty years working in enterprise application development, a large portion of that time in enterprise Java and most recently mobile web.  His passion for technology has helped launch multiple startups, legacy modernization projects, and bleeding edge application development and delivery initiatives.  

Jay enjoys working with motivated people who are truly looking at future business solutions delivered in the new paradigm of cloud computing; along with all of the application development challenges that go with it (tools, frameworks, continuous integration, elastic scale, DevOps, etc.).  Jay has worked with some of VMware’s largest customers to help shape their vision and start them down this path.

GigaOM Structure Attendees – Check out Bill Fathers’ “Fireside Chat” on Wednesday, June 18!

There has been a lot of buzz and excitement around vCloud Hybrid Service since it became generally available in August 2013. VMware vCloud Hybrid Service is progressing at lightning speed – we went from one to five data center locations in the U.S. and UK and added new compute, storage, networking, desktop service, DR service and government service in just a matter of months.

VMware’s hybrid cloud strategy helps enterprise customers use the public cloud with an infrastructure that matches their existing architectures and data location, giving IT all the freedom of the public cloud with the manageability and security they expect from their existing data center or private cloud. For IT departments, a hybrid cloud removes traditional barriers to innovation and radically changes the relationship between IT and the business, making IT the “it” crowd – the people who really make things happen.

Want to learn more?

On Wednesday, June 18 at 4:30 p.m. PT, Bill Fathers, SVP and GM of VMware’s Hybrid Cloud Services Business Unit, will participate in a “Fireside Chat” with GigaOM’s Barb Darrow at the Mission Bay Conference Center at GigaOM Structure. Bill and Barb will be on stage for a discussion on “Making the enterprise comfortable with the public cloud.”

Want to know what are the big concerns from big IT buyers that the cloud must address?

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear Bill discuss these topics and more!

For more information about GigaOM Structure 2014, visit their website.

For future updates, follow us on Twitter at @vCloud and Facebook.com/VMwarevCloud.

Watch www.becometheITdepartment.com over the next month for insights and research on the move to hybrid cloud.

vCHS OpenSSL remediation completed

Remediation is complete for vCHS. VMware Global Support Services has been in contact with the small number of customers who were potentially effected.

vCHS not affected by OpenSSL vulnerabilities except for Edge Gateway to Edge Gateway SSL VPN

We’ve determined that VMware Edge Gateway SSL VPN sessions that terminate on vCHS Edge Gateways are vulnerable to CVE-2014-0224. If you are not using SSL VPN Edge Gateway to Edge Gateway, you are not affected, as no other Edge Gateway functions are vulnerable: SSL load balancing and IPSec VPNs are not affected. We will remediate.

The CVE-2014-0224 vulnerability allows a “man in the middle” attacker to force negotiation of weak key material for SSL VPN sessions between Edge Gateways, potentially allowing an attacker with sufficient resources to decrypt the contents of the session.

We are also patching the Linux distributions in the vCHS catalog to the latest versions of OpenSSL. Customers can get the latest OpenSSL libraries on their Linux VMs using “sudo yum update openssl” (or equivalent for your distro), and restarting any services dependent on OpenSSL, or rebooting the VM.

We’ll provide more details on status in a later post.

How to Get Started with Hybrid Cloud: Top Use Cases – Register for the 6/10 Webcast!

Is immediate access to scalable, production-ready environments something you would benefit from? How about the ability to seamlessly extend your application services to a fully compatible hybrid cloud service – without the need for any architectural or configuration changes?

If you answered yes to either of those questions, you will be happy to know the VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, a secure, infrastructure-as-a-service hybrid cloud, supports a wide variety of use cases such as these. vCloud Hybrid Service enables you to leverage your existing VMware vSphere platform skills, processes, and tools that you know and trust.

On June 10th, at 10am PDT, we invite you to join our webcast, showing how you can get started with hybrid cloud, using two common use cases for test/dev and packaged applications.

During the webcast, attendees will learn how to:

  • Evaluate applications and workloads for moving to hybrid cloud;
  • Accelerate the development and testing of your applications in hybrid cloud;
  • Migrate packaged applications to hybrid cloud with high availability

IT Application Architects involved with provisioning and managing IT infrastructure, you won’t want to miss out on this webcast!

Register today and see how hybrid cloud can solve your business needs!

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook at @vCloud and Facebook.com/VMwarevCloud for future hybrid cloud updates and resources.