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Matthew D. Sarrel, Sarrel Group

I’ve been playing around with the Virtacore vCloud beta for a few weeks. There isn’t all that much that I can do with it right now.  Even with the limited functionality though, it does what they say it does – which is pretty good for a beta cloud offering.

I got another email from Virtacore:

Greetings to all of our vCloud Express Beta Testers!

The last several weeks have been pretty busy behind the scenes here at Virtacore.  Thanks to feedback from our testers, we believe we've isolated a few problems encountered during testing.  Specifically we believe we've finally pin-pointed and corrected the issue that was resulting in VMs suspending after running for a week.  This fix will be applied to all new VMs created going forward and as of early Monday morning is now fixed for all existing VMs. 

In addition to fixing bugs and troubleshooting interface errors, our development team is in the process of rolling out two new features – user management and vApps (aka VM Groups). 

You can find a more detailed explanation of the features here.

And on a final note, we are extending our vCloud Express beta program through February 15, 2011.  There are a few more bugs/features we want to work through before release, so we're pleased to announce you'll continue to have access to the beta until at least February 15th. 

I did have that problem of the VM suspending on its own, but I didn’t think it was such a big deal because I’m not using it for anything anyway.  When I signed up for the beta, Virtacore suggested that I not save any data on the VM because it is beta and that they could blow it away as part of the development process.

Virtacore had also been running a competition to see who could report the most bugs.  That ended, but had I participated I could’ve won a $50 Amazon gift certificate. It’s an interesting enticement to get people to test and report findings.

I’m getting more and more eager to get out of beta and get some real systems running up there.

Update: Virtacore also recently rolled out the ability to build a vApp.

A vApp is basically a group of virtual machines with applications and operating systems running on top of them, stored with the information needed to launch and operate them. I think of vApps the same way that I thought about “teams” in VMware Workstation.  Many organizations have moved beyond thinking about VMs and now think in terms of vApps in order to simplify complex multi-server environments.

VApp1

Creating a vApp is about as easy as creating a VM:

  VApp2

And then the vApp can essentially be managed as a “Server Group”

VApp3

Stay tuned for more updates as Virtacore's vCloud offering continues to evolve.

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.