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Author Archives: Mathew Lodge

Reports of vCloud Director’s death exaggerated

Borrowing from Mark Twain’s retort to newspaper stories of his death, reports of the death of vCloud Director are exaggerated. vCloud Director (vCD) is alive and well and now 100% focused on the needs of the service provider market, where it powers more than 250 public clouds in the vCloud Powered and vCloud Datacenter programs in addition to VMware’s own vCloud Hybrid Service.

We’ll continue to integrate vCD functions into vCenter and vCloud Automation Center, as previously announced. With this strategy, we can focus vCloud Director development on the service provider market and public cloud, and vCloud Automation Center on the needs of enterprises and private cloud. The product management and engineering teams for vCloud Director are part of VMware’s Cloud Services business unit, and we’re working hard on the next release.

So, here are the key facts:

1) Development of vCloud Director continues at VMware, now 100% focused on the cloud service provider market.

2) vCloud Director will continue to be available in the VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP) and also continues to be a foundational component of vCloud Hybrid Service, VMware’s IaaS offering.

3) The next release of vCloud Director will be version 5.6, in the first half of 2014, available through VSPP to cloud service providers.

4) VMware continues to develop and enhance the vCloud API, to provide API access to new capabilities, and to make the API faster and easier to use.

The product team is finalizing the content for the vCloud Director 5.6 release, building on the current vCloud Director 5.5 functionality with new capabilities requested by our service provider customers, as well as new functionality developed for vCloud Hybrid Service. We met with many service providers at VMworld in San Francisco last week to gather feature requests and roadmap feedback, and the product management team will also be in Barcelona for VMworld EMEA, and in Australia for vForum Sydney. Let your VSPP account manager know if you’d like to meet and help shape the roadmap.

Roadmap themes include serviceability (ease of deployment, upgrades and updates), disaster recovery integration and other revenue-generating services, networking (further exploiting virtual networking and NSX), storage and security.

Thank you to our customers and partners for helping us build a better vCloud Director for public clouds, and I hope this post provided useful clarity.

 

vCloud Connector 2.0 now available

I’m pleased to announce that vCloud Connector 2.0 is now available for download! vCloud Connector (vCC) allows you to view, copy and manage VMs across vSphere, vCloud Director and any of the 180+ vCloud Powered and vCloud Datacenter IaaS cloud providers listed at vcloud.vmware.com. For more details on what’s in 2.0, see my earlier blog post.

There are two versions: vCloud Connector Core is a free download for anyone with vSphere, and vCloud Connector Advanced is free for anyone with the vCloud Suite. Here’s a summary of the differences:

vCloud Connector 2.0 Features Core Advanced
View, copy, move VMs and templates Yes Yes
User interface improvements Yes Yes
Transfer speed and reliability improvements Yes Yes
Cross-cloud search for VM or template by name Yes Yes
Automatic catalog synchronization across clouds No Yes
Migrate VM while maintaining IP and MAC addresses No Yes

vCloud Connector supports vSphere and vCloud Director 4.x and 5.x. It’s available from the “Drivers And Tools” tab of vSphere 5.1 and vCloud Director 5.1, or by following this link: vmware.com/go/downloadvcc

[This blog post was edited on Jan 9 2013 to correct an error — VXLAN is not required to migrate a VM while maintaining IP and MAC addresses.]

Try your own vCloud in minutes

Today, we’re announcing that we’re introducing a new service that allows you to get your own vCloud IaaS service in minutes, called vCloud Service Evaluation. We heard from many customers that they came to vmware.com to learn more about vCloud services, but that it wasn’t easy to sign up with a credit card, kick the tires, and learn by doing. vCloud Service Evaluation will provide a quick, easy and low-cost way for you to learn about the advantages of a vCloud through hands-on testing and experimentation.

You can sign up for the beta here: http://vmware.com/go/vcloudbeta. We’ll be sending out invites to those who sign up the week of August 27th, and those of you who are going to VMworld in San Francisco can see and try the service at the cloud services pod within the VMware booth.

You’ll need a credit card to use the service. It makes the service self-funding, and we can keep things simple, avoiding complex “service quotas” and other artificial restrictions – and also offer Windows VMs. We learned that customers have widely differing requirements for tests and proofs of concept. So, instead of annoying restrictions, you pay a small amount for what you use – a 1Gb Linux VM with one vCPU is $0.04/hour – and you are free to run the VMs you need until you are done. Once you have entered your card details, you’ll get your credentials within 15 minutes. If we need to verify anything, you’ll get a call.

To keep costs down, we commissioned a VMware vCloud service provider to build and operate the service on our behalf. We’re giving you a vanilla example of how a vCloud Powered service – delivered by a VMware vCloud service provider – would work. It’s worth pointing out that vCloud service providers offer significantly more in terms of cloud functionality. vCloud Service Evaluation has all the basics like a catalog of useful VM templates, virtual networking, persistent storage, external IP addresses, firewalls, load balancers, the vCloud API etc., but you’ll get a lot more in a production vCloud service.

To find that production vCloud service, head to vcloud.vmware.com: the gateway to the world’s largest network of certified compatible public cloud services, including more than 145 vClouds in 28 countries.

To get you started quickly, vCloud Service Evaluation offers a variety of pre-built content templates (at no charge) including WordPress, Joomla!, Sugar CRM, LAMP stack, Windows Server and a mix of web and application stacks and OSes. You can also Bring Your Own VM (BYOVM). That’s right, you can BYOVM and put it into your own private catalog for deployment. You can do that either by uploading it directly into vCloud Director, or you can run the vCloud Connector VMs into your account (they’re in the public catalog) and use that to transfer your VMs from vSphere or any other vCloud.

Here’s what the main console looks like:

Vc-se-console

The service evaluation also allows you to run the VMware vCloud Director® interface.

Vcd-console

We also learned that while we had some great information on vmware.com, but that it was hard to find stuff relevant to vCloud – and it wasn’t clear where to ask questions. So we put all the “how to” guides in one place, added some new ones, and also provided a Community site (message boards) where you can ask questions and get answers from experts at VMware and our partners.

How-to

Community

Finally, email, chat and telephone support is available Monday through Friday for billing enquiries and to report any technical problems. “How do I…?” questions are best asked (and answered) on the Communities site.

We hope you find vCloud Service Evaluation a simple, low-cost way to learn about VMware vCloud, and look forward to getting your feedback on the service.

Welcome, Google, to the raw VM IaaS market

Google announced limited beta of Google Compute Engine, its IaaS service, at Google I/O yesterday, after weeks of rumor and speculation. The IaaS market has evolved into two segments: “raw VM” IaaS led by Amazon Web Services, and enterprise, where the cloud directly supports the application with higher performance, more flexibility and high availability. This segment is dominated by the VMware vCloud service provider ecosystem.

Google’s service apes AWS in that it explicitly offers no availability guarantees, and existing applications are not invited to the party: the service is designed for start-up developers writing new applications. Ideally, its customers will deploy many instances of a few base VMs, following the patterns of Zynga and Netflix.

So welcome, Google, to the IaaS market – it’s great to see some well-financed competition for AWS in the raw VM segment. I really hope Google is serious about its offering given the limited success of Google App Engine, and because I wonder about Google’s motivation. Why do developers matter when Google makes almost all its revenue from ads? I expect it’s because developers write apps that collect and generate data. Google’s raft of free services from Gmail to Maps to Android exist to feed data and eyeballs (that is, you and me) into its ad algorithms, and 3rd party apps offer another way to do that. Those new Google glasses and tablets are going to generate all kinds of monetizable big data.

The announcement, along with the Glasses and Nexus tablet, highlight the importance of “big data”, the New Black of batch processing. VMware announced its Serengeti initiative a few weeks ago, which makes it far easier to deploy Hadoop onto virtualized infrastructures (i.e., clouds) of all kinds. My colleague Dave McCrory also launched datagravity.org this week, which explores the idea that computing must move closer to the data, not the reverse. vCloud provider NYSE Technologies is the embodiment of this approach with its capital markets cloud, designed to bring those apps closer to their exchanges.

When it comes to application gravity –- the inability to leave behind the apps you already have — there are now more than 125 certified public vClouds in 26 countries. It is the world’s largest cloud ecosystem, and all of them offer the same vCloud API, and compatibility with the applications you already have. It also offers me the opportunity to end on a high note: the most recent vCloud customer success story, over at Another VMware Cloud, is the non-partisan, non-profit National Democratic Institute (NDI). For the growing number of you who have ditched your dictators and need to organize political parties and hold free and fair elections, NDI can help faster, cheaper and with less interference (far more resistant to cyber attacks) because it runs on a VMware vCloud. Check out the video interview at http://www.vmware.com/anothervmwarecloud and their work at www.ndi.org.

 

vCloud Integration Manager and more clouds in more countries

Today, VMware is announcing new software designed specifically for our service provider partners called vCloud Integration Manager. We developed Integration Manager to provide a simple and standardized way for service providers to provision vCloud Director, vShield and vSphere in order to more quickly get new customers up and running on a cloud service. Until now, service providers either had to do these tasks manually, or redirect valuable software development resources to writing undifferentiated "glue code" and/or automation scripts.

Integration Manager reduces operational costs by automatically stepping through the configuration process for vCloud Director to set up Virtual Data Centers, virtual networks, administrator accounts and other cloud resources that the customer has ordered. By completing this in a matter of minutes, it decreases time to revenue (the time between receiving an order for service and fulfilling it, and therefore being able to bill for service).

Integration Manager includes a full set of REST APIs and a web GUI. The GUI provides an administrator interface to define the service building blocks that make up a full cloud service for a customer. Administrators can also configure reseller accounts, and provision and de-provision customers.

The web GUI invokes the Integration Manager API to accomplish these tasks. In production at service providers, Integration Manager will mostly be driven through API calls from the service provider’s customer portal or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. These are typically the “systems of record” for customer data and product orders, with Integration Manager doing the detailed provisioning work.

Vcim

Integration Manager is also important for VMware's reseller partners, many of whom are looking to add cloud services to their portfolios in order to be able to sell complete hybrid clouds (combinations of public and private clouds).  To make it simple for resellers to package, price and sell vCloud Powered or vCloud Datacenter services, Integration Manager includes the notion of a cloud reseller. This capability allows a service provider to securely delegate provisioning to resellers. In turn, the resellers can directly and immediately provision and de-provision their own customers (via the API or web GUI), without having to open tickets, send emails or make phone calls.

We developed Integration Manager in response to demand from our growing vCloud service provider ecosystem.  There are now 94 clouds in 19 countries world-wide that qualify for the vCloud Datacenter or vCloud Powered status. vCloud Datacenter is a globally consistent IaaS service that's audited and certified by VMware; vCloud Powered providers offer a basic level of workload and data compatibility by using vCloud Director, the vCloud API and the OVF file format.

VMware's service provider business grew more than 200% in 2011, a testament to the momentum and rapid growth those service providers are seeing in their VMware-based clouds. With vCloud Integration Manager, we hope to further accelerate their growth and profitability by reducing operational costs and opening up new routes to market.

 

 

 

A Cloud For Europe: Colt Expands vCloud Datacenter Service

Yesterday at VMworld in Copenhagen, Colt announced further expansion of its vCloud Datacenter Services into four new European countries – France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. But doesn’t the cloud mean you don’t care where your computing is done, so long as it’s secure and cost effective? Why does it matter that there’s now a local vCloud Datacenter Service in all these countries?

All vCloud Datacenter Services offer a globally-consistent infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) service definition that is audited and certified by VMware. The goal is to allow VMware customers to deploy to the cloud in any geography with no changes to the application. IaaS is a highly competitive market and each service provider delivers additional value around that core IaaS offering. Colt’s announcement is good example of their differentiation, and also underlines the importance of intimate local market knowledge for cloud.

At the core of this expansion is that the three most important issues in cloud computing for European organizations are location, location and location. Data privacy and security legislation varies significantly from country to country, which means that knowing where your data is located and who has jurisdiction and access are vital to a cloud for Europe. If you’re an organization operating in Switzerland and have Swiss customer data, you have to comply with that country’s strict information privacy and data retention laws. Putting your data in (say) Ireland doesn’t cut it.

European organizations are also leery of a variety of US laws and its law enforcement approaches, notably the Patriot Act and the FBI’s use of National Security Letters (NSLs) to enforce it. NSLs allow the FBI to order any service provider in its jurisdiction to hand over electronic communications or data without review or demonstration of probable cause, and to retain that data indefinitely. The FBI can also simultaneously gag the recipient, who cannot disclose that the request has been made. The American Civil Liberties Union estimated that more than 40,000 NSLs are issued each year. As a result, there’s a growing market for cloud service providers that are not subject to US jurisdiction.

The net? Working with a cloud service provider like Colt that stays on top of the shifting sands of EU and individual country regulations, and who offers very specific data locality and security in its cloud services is an important differentiator. Colt is able to make the decision simple – with its vCloud Datacenter Service you can co-locate your computing with your data inside country boundaries. Need to comply with Swiss privacy regulations? Deploy your application and keep its data in Switzerland, with a back-up site in the same country.

Read more about Colt’s expansion here.

 

Hybrid cloud customer panel at VMworld Copenhagen

Next week I have the pleasure of moderating a hybrid cloud customer panel at VMworld Copenhagen. The speakers are VMware customers deploying their applications to private and public clouds, and they'll be speaking about their experiences and goals in session CIM 4813 on Tuesday October 18 at 13:30.

Dr Stuart Lee from the University of Oxford will be talking about their innovative database as a service application deployed to their private cloud and to Colt's vCloud Datacenter Service.

Stephen Speirs, CIO of Charles River Labs has an agenda to migrate this leading lab and research services company to enterprise-class public clouds over the next few years, getting out of the business of managing on-premises infrastructure. Learn about their experiences using a hybrid cloud to make that transition.

Francis Hart is Chief Architect at game publisher and developer Sega Europe. Learn how they're making Sega more productive and more secure using hybrid clouds — and the difference between commodity and enterprise public clouds.

This promises to be an interesting panel for those considering or making the move to hybrid cloud. Please join me and take adavtage of the ability to hear from these cloud leaders and the Q&A session afterwards.

VMworld vCloud IaaS news: the enterprise cloud advances

A year ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Cloud, meet enterprise,” the title a nod to the early successes by cloud service innovators and the pent-up desire of many IT organizations to gain the same kind of agility. Their problem: how to get take advantage of public clouds without having to abandon everything they had and without re-architecting or re-writing all of their applications en masse. By working with our service provider partners we could jointly deliver public cloud services that offered an evolutionary path to the public cloud revolution.

Today, VMware and its partners are introducing new products and services that help organizations of all sizes find, evaluate, and manage hybrid cloud services to compliment their own IT investments. By hybrid, we mean using private and public clouds in concert, so that an organization can determine for itself the appropriate mix. 

vcloud.vmware.com helps VMware customers quickly find a qualified service provider that’s compatible with their VMware-virtualized infrastructure. Customers can learn about the different types of cloud services (vCloud Powered, vCloud Datacenter and vCloud Express), locate a provider world-wide, and also sign up for a service trial. 

We’re also introducing the public beta of vCloud Connector 1.5, VMware’s tool for transferring and managing workloads across vSphere clusters, private and public clouds. New in version 1.5 is a point-to-point agent architecture for transfers that improves speed by using multiple parallel network connections. There’s also an automatic checkpoint & restart mechanism, so any transfer that is interrupted by network congestion or failure is now automatically re-started from where it failed.

Customers can also access vCloud Connector 1.5 from any compatible web browser, in addition to accessing it from the vSphere console. As before, vCloud Connector is a free download for existing vSphere customers, and it is also integrated directly with vcloud.vmware.com.

We’re also pleased to announce improvements to vCloud Datacenter, which delivers globally consistent IaaS service world-wide through selected partners. The service is audited and certified by VMware to meet stringent compatibility and security requirements. We’re pleased that Dell has joined the program and will roll out vCloud Datacenter Service globally, with initial beta service out of its Texas datacenter.

All vCloud Datacenter service providers offer a common cloud computing service definition that makes it easy for customers to deploy their applications world-wide on any vCloud Datacenter service without re-work. We’re also announcing Global Connect, an initiative where vCloud Datacenter partners are working together to offer a global virtual cloud service through a single contract. Bluelock, Colt, SingTel and Softbank are the first vCloud Datacenter partners expected to offer Global Connect.

Finally, some numbers to give you a sense of where we are on the journey and how adoption of enterprise cloud services are accelerating: there are now 5,600 members of the VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP) in 62 countries, with 174% bookings growth in VSPP in the year-to-date. Since VMware only makes money when our service providers sell services, that means the VSPP ecosystem has grown its revenue by at least 174% too. By comparison, this is more than three times the growth estimates for the largest non-VMware public clouds, demonstrating the rapid acceleration of enterprise cloud. If you haven’t already done so, find a provider and start your own journey at vcloud.vmware.com.

 

The future of cloud, part 2: Harris trusted enterprise cloud

Today at VMworld, Harris Corporation announced their Trusted Enterprise Cloud as a VMware vCloud® Powered service offering for federal and enterprise customers based on best of breed technologies, including VMware vCloud® Director. Perhaps the most interesting part of this is the strong differentiation that Harris has built into its cloud infrastructure that makes it a particularly good fit for this customer base. 

There are echoes here of NYSE Euronext’s capital markets approach – both are far from “generic” or “commodity” cloud services. They are clouds specifically designed and operated to solve mission-critical customer needs. Harris is way out in front of some recent announcements that are nothing more than “same old cloud, new building”, marketed as “Now for government use.” You’ve heard of “CloudWashing” – maybe the term for this is “GovCloudWashing?”

So what’s the secret sauce? Harris set out to comprehensively answer the question “What makes a cloud trusted?” There are three components to this – the physical and logical integrity of the cloud itself, the methods and procedures to operate it, and the people who run the cloud. There’s a lot of meat to this, and Chuck Hollis’ blog goes into more detail – I want to focus on Harris’ innovation in the cloud infrastructure layer.

All of the Trusted Cloud hardware components are positively verified to be as the manufacturer intended, with tracking from the source. There’s no room for (say) buying the cheapest “white box” server board of unknown origin in a trusted cloud, because that can compromise the integrity of the overall system. If you think this is far-fetched, consider that everything from NAS arrays to iPods have arrived in the hands of customers pre-loaded with malicious code in the past few years. Then there’s the growing market in counterfeit networking, storage and server spares (by May 2010, US authorities had made more than 700 seizures of counterfeit Cisco gear — more than 94,000 network devices in total). 

Secondly, Harris has developed an innovative white-listing approach to verify the integrity of code and configurations that run on the cloud. Traditional anti-virus systems use black-listing – known malicious code is identified through signatures and blocked. The challenge has been the deliberately massive proliferation of malicious code variants, and techniques like code mutation designed to defeat signatures. White listing is the reverse – only known good code and configurations (those with a signature on the “white list”) are allowed. By definition, malicious code, regardless of how it mutates or disguises itself, cannot run because it doesn’t have a valid signature.

The challenge with white-listing is ensuring you have 100% of the required signatures to allow the system to run, given the sheer number of variations of bona fide code and configurations. Through its acquisition of SignaCert in 2010, Harris has assembled a database of code and configuration signatures for over 3 billion software objects from more than 2,000 vendors. Harris has four patents on this technology and has embedded it in their Trusted Enterprise Cloud service.

This is another strike against the “cloud monoculture” viewpoint: to be relevant to a particular market segment, a cloud must deliver more than on-demand VMs; it must also solve key infrastructure challenges that distract organizations from their marketplace or mission. For many, including Federal government agencies, assuring a secure cloud platform is a great example of something that Trusted Enterprise Cloud solves effectively, and is what distinguishes it from “same basic cloud, shiny new label” offerings.

 

Avoiding Chaos Monkeys — clouds that proactively avoid customer downtime

Next week at VMworld, I'm presenting a session called “Escaping the chaos monkey: enterprise vs. commodity clouds”, detailing the differences in the two types of cloud, and the resulting impact to applications. The session is CIM 2865, Wednesday at 12.30pm. The Chaos Monkey is a process developed by Netflix to simulate the unreliability of commodity clouds by randomly killing virtual machines (VMs).

Commodity clouds are designed to trade off VM uptime to reduce hardware costs & boost profitability. This assumes that all applications will be written as distributed systems that can take care of their own uptime, and that the uptime of individual virtual machines (VMs) is not important. Amazon’s EC2 service, for example, has no guarantee for VM uptime.

To illustrate the contrast with an enterprise cloud approach, I’d like to share an example from VMware partner StratoGen, a hosting and cloud provider in London. Late last week, they needed to do emergency power maintenance in one of their London datacenters, Telehouse West. In a commodity cloud, preventative maintenance typically means some VMs are going to die, because there’s no infrastructure to keep VMs running while the hardware is replaced.

But StratoGen’s customers didn’t suffer an outage. In fact, they wouldn’t have known anything was happening if they hadn’t read the service bulletin. Here’s what StratoGen did: prior to commencing maintenance, all running customer VMs were migrated from StratoGen’s Telehouse location to another data center, Park Royal, in West London using VMware vMotion. The power maintenance was carried out as planned, and several hours later the VMs were vMotioned back to Telehouse. No VMs were harmed during this process 😉

StratoGen’s approach is designed for the overwhelming majority of existing applications that assume a reliable server infrastructure layer. Often, these applications cannot be easily altered or re-written, or it is simply uneconomic to do so. This is the market served by enterprise public clouds, and StratoGen is a good example of the kind of service quality that helps those applications run better by avoiding individual VM downtime.

The irony is that because absolutely nothing went wrong, this isn't something that is likely to generate headlines like other recent cloud service interruptions. Sometimes it's what doesn't happen that is valuable.